The Project Gutenberg EBook of Niels Klim's journey under the ground, by
Baron Ludvig Holberg
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Title: Niels Klim's journey under the ground
being a narrative of his wonderful descent to the
subterranean lands; together with an account of the sensible
animals and trees
Author: Baron Ludvig Holberg
Translator: John Gierlow
Release Date: January 25, 2009 [EBook #27884]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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NIELS KLIM'S NARRATIVE.
JOURNEY UNDER THE GROUND;
NARRATIVE OF HIS WONDERFUL DESCENT TO THE SUBTERRANEAN
LANDS; TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE
SENSIBLE ANIMALS AND TREES INHABITING THE
PLANET NAZAR AND THE FIRMAMENT.
BY LOUIS HOLBERG.
TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY
WITH A SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
PUBLISHED BY SAXTON, PEIRCE & CO.
SAXTON & MILES.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1844, BY SAXTON,
PEIRCE AND CO. in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the
District of Massachusetts.
LIST OF PLATES.
NIELS KLIM'S DESCENT TO THE PLANET NAZAR, 1
A CRIMINAL LED BY THREE WATCHMEN, 23
PRESENTATION OF NIELS KLIM AT THE COURT OF POTU, 29
A CITIZEN OF POTU LED IN TRIUMPH, 41
THE JUDGMENT OF A KING'S CHARACTER, PRONOUNCED BY
A POTUAN COUNCIL, 48
A NEW FASHION INTRODUCED INTO MARTINIA, 99
Lewis Holberg, the author of the _Narrative of Niels Klim_, was the most
eminent writer among the Danes in the eighteenth century. His works show
a surprising versatility of genius, comprising Histories and Treatises
on Jurisprudence, together with Satires and Comedies. He was by birth a
Norwegian, but was educated at the University at Copenhagen in Denmark.
Soon after receiving a theological degree from that Institution, he
visited Holland and England, and resided about two years at Oxford.
Shortly after his return he published an "Introduction to European
History," and an "Appendix to the Universal History," in which he gives
an account of contemporaneous affairs in the principal governments of
the world. His historical labors were interrupted by a royal appointment
to a professorship in the University. This office he enjoyed for five
years, and then went abroad. In his Autobiography he has given an
interesting account of his travels, both at this time and subsequently,
and has described men and manners in a way highly entertaining, and
generally just. He visited most of the cities of Southern Europe,
abiding some time in each. He was well received by men of letters, and
made many valuable acquaintance, wherever he went. After remaining one
whole winter at Rome, and accomplishing the object of his mission, he
returned to Copenhagen. His income was now small, and for two years he
was oppressed with great pecuniary difficulties. It was during this
period that he published in the Danish language, his "Introduction to
the Law of Nature and of Nations." In this treatise, Holberg aimed
rather to apply the principles of Natural Law to the Laws and
Constitutions of Norway and Denmark, than elaborately to discuss the
principles themselves. The work was coldly received at its first
appearance, but, after ten or twelve years began to excite public
attention, and passed through several editions.
At length, the professorship of metaphysics becoming vacant, he received
the appointment. The emoluments of this office, though small, supplied
his necessities, and, not long after, on obtaining a more lucrative
station in the University, he was relieved from his embarrassments.
Hitherto, he had devoted himself almost exclusively to Jurisprudence,
History and Languages, and had never tried his hand at poetical
composition. Indeed, he had ever felt a strange aversion to the study of
poetry, and, although he had read the Latin Poets, and composed Latin
Poems, it was more for the sake of proficiency in the language, than for
pleasure, or, in his own words, "as a sick man swallows bitter draughts,
not because they are grateful to the palate, but, because they are
recommended by the physicians."
He now, however, seemed inspired by a new ambition, and set himself to
imitate one of Juvenal's Satires. Encouraged by his unexpected
facility, he projected and composed an original poem. Its success, when
published, surpassed that of any work previously written in the Danish
language. Judicious critics heartily commended it, and some even looked
upon it as introducing a new era in the national literature. It was also
published in Sweden and Germany, and raised the author's reputation
abroad. He next published five more Satires, prefixing to each a short
preface, unfolding the writer's design. His poetical productions were a
source of more honor than gain, and, becoming weary of almost profitless
pursuits, he abandoned poetry, and devoted himself to his former
Nevertheless, the solicitations of friends prevailed upon him to turn
his attention to Dramatic composition. Here he was equally successful.
His comedies were received with great applause, and still hold
possession of the stage. Like his Satires, they were intended to expose
fashionable vice and folly. They are twenty-five in number. The names of
several will give some notion of their general character--_The Babbling
Barber_; _Always Busy and Doing Nothing_; _The Treacherous
Step-father_; _The Political Tinman_.
His health being impaired by unintermitted literary labor, he determined
to seek relief from the baths of Aix-la-Chapelle. He did not derive from
them the benefit he anticipated, but, after spending the winter in
Paris, returned home with renewed health and spirits. His next
publication, was a Satirical Poem, entitled "Metamorphosis," in which
brutes and trees are transformed into men. This was the last of his
For several years he had been engaged in preparing "_A General
Ecclesiastical History from the origin of Christianity to the
Reformation of Luther_," which he now published. This production, the
author affirms, was written with perfect impartiality. He sometimes
censured the Fathers, praised heretics, when they deserved it, and
occasionally even commended the Popes. It was extremely popular, though
all were not pleased with its liberal spirit. _A Comparative Biography
of Asiatic and Indian Heroes_, after Plutarch's style; _A short
Historical Account of his Native Town_; _The Narrative of Niels Klim_;
_His Autobiography_; and a _History of the Jewish Nation_, digested from
the works of Josephus, Prideaux, and Basnage, close the list of his
"_The Journey to the World under ground_," or "_Narrative of Niels
Klim_," had been written for a long time, but he had refrained from
printing it from an unwillingness to provoke enmity. But the importunity
of friends, and the generous offer of a bookseller finally prevailed,
and he put it into the printer's hands. The following account of this
performance is abridged from his autobiography.
There are many persons of both sexes in my country, who believe in
fairies and supernatural beings, and who are ready to swear, that they
have been conveyed by spirits to hills and mountain caves. This
superstition is ridiculed in Klim, the hero of the tale. He is supposed
to be transported to the world under ground, where he meets with some
surprising adventures. Many strange creatures inhabit this new world;
trees, for instance, are introduced, endowed with speech, and musical
instruments discuss questions of philosophy and finance. Amongst the
characters, those geniuses, who perceive everything at a glance, but
penetrate nothing, are conspicuous. People of quick perception, whom we
use to admire, are despised by the Potuans, who look upon them as idle
loungers, that, though always moving, make no progress. Prudent men, on
the contrary, who measure their own strength, and advance cautiously,
are greatly esteemed by that nation, though with us they pass for fools
or cowards. The Potuans and Martinians are examples of both these
extremes. By the former Klim was considered a blockhead, on account of
the quickness of his perceptions; by the latter he was equally despised
for the slowness of his apprehension. To Klim, who measures virtues and
vices by the ordinary standard, everything is a paradox; but what he at
first condemns, he admires and extols after deliberation; so that the
object of the whole work is to correct popular errors, and to
distinguish the semblance of virtue and vice from the reality. Its
subordinate design is to expose the monstrous fictions, which some
authors obtrude upon us in their descriptions of remote countries.
"_The Narrative of Niels Klim_," though written so many years ago,
contains many satirical hits, exceedingly applicable to the present
time; thus showing that what appears to one age to be a whim altogether
new, may be, in fact, only some old notion newly promulgated. Greater
liberties were allowed at that period in literature than would now be
permitted. Holberg's humorous productions are not wholly free from a
fault, whose existence the taste of any age may explain, but does not
After living in competency for many years in Copenhagen, he was, in
1747, created a baron by the king of Denmark. He died in 1754.
PETER KLIM AND ANDREAS KLIM, THE SONS OF THOMAS KLIM, AND GRANDSONS OF
KLIM THE GREAT, TO THE KIND READER.
Since it has come to our ears that some persons have doubted the truth
of this story, and that, consequently, the publisher of the subterranean
voyage has gotten, here and there, a bad reputation, we have, to prevent
all false accusations, held it advisable to prefix to this new edition
certificates from men whose honesty and sincerity are raised above all
distrust, and whose evidence will secure the publisher against all
opposition. The first two of these witnesses we know to have been
contemporary with our hero; the rest flourished at a period immediately
subsequent; and all are generally known as people venerable in virtue
and honesty, whose cool and sound judgments effectually preclude the
blandishments of cajolery, while their noble candor and undeviating
uprightness forbid the sanction of their names to whatever is, in its
nature, deceitful or fictitious. With the testimony of such respectable
persons, we shall bind the tongues of all false, prejudiced and sneering
critics, and, before these signatures, oblige them to acknowledge their
folly and take back their heedless accusations. The certificate sent to
my brother and myself reads thus:
"At the desire of the estimable and much respected young
men, PETER KLIM and ANDREAS KLIM, we, the undersigned, do
certify, that among the books and papers left by the
celebrated NIELS KLIM, we have seen a manuscript, with the
title, 'Subterranean Voyage.' To the same 'Voyage' were
added a subterranean Grammar and Dictionary, in two
languages, namely, Danish and Quamitic. By comparing the
celebrated Abelin's Latin translation with this old
manuscript, we find that the former does not, in the least
point, deviate from the hand-text. To its further
confirmation we have hereby placed our seals.
ADRIAN PETERSON, MPP.
JENS THORLAKSEN, MPP.
SVEND KLAK, MPP.
JOKUM BRANDER, MPP.
JENS GAD, (for self and brother,) MPP.
HIERONYMOUS GIBS, (Scotch,) MPP."
We hope by such distinguished and authentic testimony to remove all
doubt; but should there be found any stubborn enough to persist in their
suspicions, in spite of these certificates, we will anticipate their
objections, and endeavor to subdue their incredulity with other weapons.
It is a known fact, that in a section of Norway, called _Finnmark_,
exist people who have advanced so far in the study and practice of
natural witchcraft, (a science into which other nations have scarcely
looked,) that they can excite and subdue storms; transform themselves to
wolves; speak several, and in our world entirely unknown, languages; and
travel from the north to the south pole in less time than one hour. One
of these Finns, by name Peyvis, came lately to Bergen, and exhibited so
many strange proofs of his art and science, that all present deemed him
worthy of a doctor's hat: at the same time a fierce critic came out with
a review of the "Subterranean Travels," which he assumptively tagged to
the long list of "old women's stories;" the honor of the Klims being
thus impugned, and his own by implication, Peyvis, through our
influence, obtained permission to collect materials and prepare himself
for a voyage under ground. He commenced by publishing a card, wherein he
exalted his abilities in the following expressions:
What will you? say!
From northern ice to southern land:
From eastern isles to western sand,
Spirits of earth, spirits of air;
Spirits foul and spirits fair,
My power obey!
I break the rainbow's arched line;
That herald of approaching calm.
Thunder I send by cold moonshine,--
Mine is the bane and mine the balm.
My beck upwhirls the hurricane:
The sun and moon and stars in vain
Their wonted course would keep;
Honey from out the rock doth weep
When I command.
My potent wand,
Stretched on the mighty northern wave,
Or seas that farther India lave,
Subdues their mountain billows hoarse,
To inland brooklets' murmuring course.
What is on earth, what is in sea,
In air and fire, from Peyvis free?
Everybody shuddered from fear at hearing these incredible assumptions.
The Finn immediately prepared himself for the voyage, undressed, and,
strange sight! suddenly transformed to an eagle, raised himself into the
air and soon vanished. After a full month's absence, our wonderful
doctor, early on a morning, re-appeared, entirely exhausted, his
forehead streaming with sweat. When sufficiently recovered from his
fatigue, he commenced a description of his adventures on his air passage
and in the subterranean lands. He told us that on his arrival below, war
was raging between the established government and the opposition, in
which the party of Klim got the ascendancy, and reinstated the son of
our Niels on the throne; our kinsman had for a long time borne the
sceptre, under the administration of his mother; but now, old and
glorified for many great feats, reigned alone over the whole
subterranean world, with the name of Niels the Second.
Now, take shame to yourselves, ye incredulous mortals! and learn
hereafter, in important matters, to proceed with more caution. Be
ashamed, ye scoffers! and ask pardon for your unfounded accusations,
your atrocious sneers. Stand abashed, finally, ye hyper-critics! and
know that the learned world shall no longer suffer from your audacious
and unreasonable judgments; then silence your stunted progeny at their
birth, or if you will, yourselves!
THE AUTHOR'S DESCENT TO THE ABYSS.
In the year 1664, after graduating at the Academy of Copenhagen, in
Theology and Philosophy, I prepared to return to my father-land, and
took passage in a ship bound for the city of Bergen, in Norway. I had
been furnished with brilliant testimonials from both faculties, and
wanted only money;--a fate common to Norwegian students, who generally
return home with empty purses from the Temple of the Muses.
We had a good wind, and in three days arrived at my native town,
I occupied myself now, in expanding my knowledge of natural philosophy,
and for practice, geologically examined the neighboring mountains. On
the top of the most interesting of these mountains, (interesting I mean
to a student,) was a remarkable cave, which the inhabitants of the town
called _Florien_. From its mouth, a mild and not unpleasant air issues
at certain periods, as though the cave inhaled the breeze and gently
sighed it forth again.
The learned in Bergen, especially the celebrated Abelin and Edward, had
longed to examine it; but these latter, from their great age, being
unable to perform so arduous a feat, used every occasion to induce the
young and adventurous to attempt the exploration. Instigated, (and it
was a foolish, and I might say, a wicked resolution,) instigated, I say,
not less by the encouragement of these great men than by my own
inclination, I determined to descend into the cave. The longer I thought
of the matter, the firmer I became. I prepared every thing needful for
the expedition, and on a Thursday, at the morning twilight, departed
from the city. I started thus early, because I desired to finish my
labors before dark, and make a report the same evening.
How little did I then dream that like another Phaėton, I should be
driven headlong through the air and precipitated to another globe, there
to ramble for the space of ten years, before I should see my friends and
native land again. The expedition took place in the year 1665.
Accompanied by four men to carry the necessary implements, and assist in
letting me down, I ascended the mountain. Arrived at the top, near the
fatal cave, we sat down to breakfast. Now, for the first time, my heart
began to faint, as though it foreboded my coming misfortune; but, in a
moment, my half extinguished courage blazed again. I fixed a rope around
my body, stood on the edge of the cave, and commended my soul to God.
Ordering the men to veer the rope steadily, and to hold when I cried
out, I took a boat-hook in my right hand, and glided into the abyss.
Aided by the pole, I was enabled to keep clear of the jutting points of
rock that would have impeded my progress, as well as have wounded me. I
was somewhat anxious about the rope, for it rubbed hard against the
rocks at the top; and, in fact, I had scarcely descended twenty to
thirty feet, when it gave way, and I tumbled with strange quickness down
the abyss, armed like Pluto, with a boat-hook, however, in place of a
Enveloped by thick darkness, I had been falling about a quarter of an
hour, when I observed a faint light, and soon after a clear and
bright-shining heaven. I thought, in my agitation, that some counter
current of air had blown me back to earth. The sun, moon and stars,
appeared so much smaller here than to people on the surface, that I was
at a loss with regard to my where-a-bout.
I concluded that I must have died, and that my spirit was now about to
be carried to the blessed dwellings. I immediately conceived the folly
of this conclusion, however, when I found myself armed with a boat-hook,
and dragging behind me a long strip of rope; well knowing that neither
of these were needful to land me in Paradise, and that the celestial
citizens would scarcely approve of these accessories, with which I
appeared, in the manner of the giants of old, likely to attack heaven
and eject the gods therefrom.
Finally, a new light glimmered in my brain. I must have got into the
subterranean firmament. This conclusion decided the opinion of those,
who insist that the earth is hollow, and that within its shell there is
another, lesser world, with corresponding suns, planets, stars, &c., to
be well-grounded. The result proved that I guessed right.
The rapidity of my descent, continually augmented for a long time, now
began to decrease gradually. I was approaching a planet which I had from
the first seen directly before me. By degrees it grew larger and larger,
when, penetrating the thick atmosphere which surrounded it, I plainly
saw seas, mountains and dales on its surface.
As the bold bird, between the billow's top
And mountain's summit, sweeps around
The muscle-clothed rock, and with light wing
Sports on the foam, my body hovered.
I found now that I did not hang in the atmosphere, buoyed up by the
strong current of which I have spoken, but that the perpendicular line
of my descent was changed to a circle. I will not deny that my hair rose
up on my head in fear. I knew not but that I might be metamorphosed to
a planet or to a satellite; to be turned around in an eternal whirl. Yet
my courage returned, as I became somewhat accustomed to the motion. The
wind was gentle and refreshing. I was but little hungry or thirsty; but
recollecting there was a small cake in my pocket, I took it out and
tasted it. The first mouthful, however, was disagreeable, and I threw it
from me. The cake not only remained in the air, but to my great
astonishment, began to circle about me. I obtained at this time a
knowledge of the true law of motion, which is, that all bodies, when
well balanced, must move in a circle.
I remained in the orbit in which I was at first thrown three days. As I
continually moved about the planet nearest to me, I could easily
distinguish between night and day; for I could see the subterranean sun
ascend and descend--the night, however, did not bring with it darkness
as it does with us. I observed, that on the descent of the sun, the
whole heavens became illuminated with a peculiar and very bright light.
This, I ascribed to the reflection of the sun from the internal arch of
But just as I began to fancy myself in the near presence of the immortal
gods, about to become myself a new heavenly light and wondered at as a
brilliant star--behold! a horrible, winged monster appeared, who seemed
to threaten me with instant destruction. When I saw this object in the
distance I supposed it to be one of the celestial signs, but when it
came near I perceived it to be an enormous eagle, which followed in my
wake as if about to pounce upon me. I observed that this creature
noticed me particularly, but could not determine whether as a friend or
Had I reflected, I should not have wondered that a human being, swinging
round in the air, with a boat-hook in his hand, and a long rope dragging
behind him, like a tail, should attract the attention of even a brute
My uncommon figure gave, as I afterwards understood, occasion for
strange reports to the inhabitants on my side of the planet.
The astronomers regarded me as a comet, with a very long tail. The
superstitious thought my appearance to be significant of some coming
misfortune. Some draughtsmen took my figure, as far as they could
descry it, so that when I landed I found paintings of myself, and
engravings taken from them, and hawked about.
But to return; the eagle flew towards me and attacked me with his wings
very furiously. I defended myself as well as I could with my boat-hook,
and even vigorously, considering my unstable situation. At last, when he
attempted to grapple with me, I thrust the hook in between his wings so
firmly that I could not extricate it.
The wounded monster fell, with a terrible cry, to the globe beneath; and
holding the hook, I, well tired of my pendant attitude, was dragged to
At first my descent was violent, but the increasing thickness of the
atmosphere as I approached the planet, made me sink with an easy and
soft fall to the earth. Immediately on touching it the eagle died of its
It was now night; or rather the sun was down, for it was not dark. I
could see clearly to read the papers I had in my pocket.
The light, as I have already said, comes from the firmament or internal
shell of our earth, half of it being brightened at one time like our
moon. The only difference between night and day is that the absence of
the sun makes the weather a little colder.
THE AUTHOR'S ARRIVAL AT THE PLANET NAZAR.
My voyage through the air was now ended. I lay for a long time entirely
immovable, awaiting my fate with the approach of day. I now observed
that the wants and weaknesses of humanity, which, during my passage had
ceased, now returned. I was both sleepy and hungry. Fatigued in mind and
body I fell into a deep slumber. I had slept, as far as I could judge,
about two hours, when a terrible roar, which had previously disturbed my
slumbers, suddenly waked me. I had dreamed some curious dreams; in one,
I thought myself to be in Norway, at the church in my native town,
listening to the singing of our clerk, whose voice was really unpleasant
from its roughness. My first impression therefore, on recovering myself
was, that this man was indulging in an extraordinarily ambitious strain.
In fact, on opening my eyes, I saw a huge bull within a few feet of me.
At the same moment, a vigorous roar from this animal convinced me that I
did not listen to church music.
It was now day-break, and the rising sun began to gild the green oaks
and fruitful fields, which, spreading abroad in every direction,
astonished my recovered sense.
How much greater was my surprise when I saw the trees, of which there
were great numbers in my view, move, although not a breeze stirred.
The vicinity of the bull not being pleasing to me, I arose and began to
ascend a tree which stood near. As I raised myself by its limbs, it gave
a low, yet shrill scream, and I got at the same time a lively slap on my
ear, which propelled me headlong to the ground. Here I lay as if struck
by lightning, about to give up my spirit, when I heard around me a
murmuring noise, such as is heard on the Exchange when the merchants are
I opened my eyes and saw many trees moving about the field. Imagine my
agitation, when one of the trees swept towards me, bent one of its
branches, and, lifting me from the ground, carried me off, in spite of
my woful cries, followed by an innumerable number of its companions of
all kinds and sizes. From their trunks issued certain articulated
sounds, which were entirely incomprehensible to me, and of which I
retained only the words: _Pikel-Emi_, on account of their being often
repeated. I will here say, these words mean an extraordinary monkey,
which creature they took me to be, from my shape and dress. All this, of
course, I learned after being some months among them.
In my present condition, I was far from being able to conceive of the
nature of sensible, speaking trees. In truth, so confounded was I, that
I forgot I could speak myself. As little could I understand the meaning
of the slow, solemn procession, and the confused murmurs which resounded
in the air.
I fancied they were reproaching or expressing their contempt of me. I
was not far from the truth: for the tree into which I had climbed to
escape from the bull, was no less than the wife of the sheriff of the
neighboring town, to which they were now taking me a prisoner.
The buildings and streets of this town were very handsome and extensive.
The houses, from their height, appeared like huge towers. The streets
were wide and filled with trees, which swayed about and saluted each
other by lowering their branches.
The greater this declination, the more expressive was it of respect and
As we passed through a very wide street I saw a tall oak approach a
distinguished house, when the trees which escorted me, stepped
gracefully back, and bent their branches to the ground. I concluded this
must be a more than common personage. In fact, it was the sheriff
himself, the very dignitary, whose lady it was insisted I had come too
near. I was carried to the hall of this officer's house, and the door
was locked upon me. Several trees armed with axes kept guard over me.
The axes were held in the branches, which served the same purpose as
human hands. I noticed that high up in the branches each wore a head,
about the size of my own, covered with leaves and tendrils instead of
hair. Below were two roots or legs, very short.
These trees were much smaller than those on our earth, in fact being
about the height of a man; some indeed were much shorter; but these I
concluded to be children.
While reflecting on the miserable situation in which I found myself, and
weeping over the ill-luck of my adventure, my guards stepped up to me
and commanded me to follow them. They led me to a splendid building in
the middle of the market-place.
At the door of this building stood Justice, cut out in the form of a
tree, holding among the branches a pair of scales. I presumed the
structure to be the court-house, nor was I deceived. I was carried into
a large room, the floor of which was overlaid with glittering marble
flags of various colors.
At the upper end a golden chair was raised a little above the floor,
like a judge's seat; in it was seated a sedate palm tree, distinguished
from the rest by the gorgeousness of his leaves; a little below him were
seated twelve assessors, six on either side. About them stood
twenty-four officers holding axes. I was not a little terrified when
brought a prisoner before these magnates.
As I entered the hall, all the officers of the court stood up, elevated
their branches and then sat down. After this ceremony I was placed at
the bar between two trees, the stems of which were covered with
sheep-skins. These persons I supposed to be lawyers, and so they were.
Before the trial commenced, the head of the judge was wrapped up in a
black blanket. The accuser then made a short speech, which he thrice
repeated. The lawyer appointed to defend me, replied in the same manner.
A perfect silence then ensued. In half an hour the superior judge rose
from the chair, removed the blanket, raised the branches towards Heaven,
and spoke with much grace, what I supposed to be my sentence. I was then
carried back to my prison.
While I mused on the strange things I had witnessed, a tree came into
my cell, with an instrument resembling a lancet in his hand. He stripped
one of my arms, and made a puncture in the median vein. When he had
taken from me as much blood as he deemed sufficient, he bound up the
wound with great dexterity. He then examined my blood with much
attention, and departed silently, with an expression of wonder.
This circumstance by no means weakened the opinion which I had for some
time entertained, that these people were shallow and foolish. But my
judgment proved to be too hasty. When I was better enabled to judge of
what passed about me, by acquaintance with the subterranean languages,
my contempt was changed to admiration.
I will now explain the ceremonies, which to my ignorance seemed
From my figure it was concluded that I was an inhabitant of the
firmament. I was supposed to have attempted to violate the person of a
chaste and virtuous lady, and for this crime I had been taken to the
court-house for trial.
The rising of the branches towards Heaven, was a common ceremony of
religion. The lawyers were clothed in sheep-skin, to remind them of the
attributes of their calling--innocence, faithfulness, and sedateness.
The repetition of their speeches was on account of the very slow
apprehension and cautious decision of the people, by which peculiarities
they were distinguished from all the inhabitants of the subterranean
world. But what most excited my curiosity was the history of the supreme
judge. This was a virgin, a native of the town, and appointed by the
King to the office of Kaki, or judge, for her superior virtue and
talent. It must be observed that this nation pay no regard to sex in
appointments to office, but, after a strict examination, elect those to
take charge of affairs who are proved to be the most worthy.
Seminaries are established throughout the country, to teach the
aspirants to public honors the duties appertaining to the direction of
government. The business of the administrators of these colleges is to
search closely into the brains and hearts of the young students, and
when satisfied with their virtue and ability, to give to the king a list
of those fully prepared to fill the public offices. The administrators
are called Karatti.
The young virgin of whom I have spoken, had received, four years before
from the Karatti, a certificate for remarkable attainments and virtues,
and had been invested with the "blanket." This blanket was wrapped about
her head during my trial; this precaution, however, is taken only in
trials such as mine, in which the occasionally broad nature of the
testimony might have a painful effect upon the virgin judge, should her
face be exposed to the public gaze.
The name of this virgin was Palmka. She had officiated for three years
with the greatest honor, and was considered the most learned tree in the
She solved with so much discretion the knottiest questions, that her
decisions had come to be regarded as oracles.
As Themis' self, with scales of equal weight,
She judged with candor both the small and great:
The sands of truth she, like the goddess, frees
From falsehood's glitter and from error's lees.
The following account was given to me of the blood-letting to which I
had been subjected. When any one is proved to be guilty of a crime, he
is bled, for the purpose of detecting from the color of the fluid, or
blood, how far his guilt was voluntary or otherwise; whether he had
sinned through malice or distemper. Should the fluid be found
discolored, he is sent to the hospital to be cured; thus this process is
rather a correction than a punishment. A member of the council, or any
one high in office, would be removed, should it be found necessary to
The reason why the surgeon, who performed the operation on me, was
astonished, was, on account of the redness of my blood. The inhabitants
having a sort of white fluid in their veins, the purity of which is
proportional to their innocence and excellence.
I was put at my ease when I observed that the trees generally possessed
a large share of humanity. This was displayed in their little attentions
to me. Food was brought to me twice a day. It consisted of fruit and
several kinds of beans; my drink was a clear, sweet and exceedingly
The sheriff, in whose house I was imprisoned, had immediately given
notice to the King that he had by accident got possession of a somewhat
sensible animal of an uncommon figure. The description of my person
excited the king's curiosity. Orders were given to the sheriff, that I
should be taught the language of the country; on which I should be sent
to court. A teacher was appointed for me, whose instruction enabled me
in a half year to speak very comprehensibly. After this preparatory
course of private study, I was sent to the seminary, where particular
care was taken both of my mental and physical education. Indeed, so
enthusiastic were they to naturalize me, that they actually fastened
branches to my body to make me look as much as possible like themselves.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN KEBA.
During the course of my education, my landlord frequently carried me
about the town, and pointed out the most remarkable things. Keba is the
town next in size and importance to the capital of the kingdom of Potu.
The inhabitants are distinguished for their sedateness and moderation;
old age is more respected by them than by any other community. They are
strangely addicted to the pitting of animals against each other; or, as
they call it, "play fight." I wondered that so moral a people could
enjoy these brutal sports. My landlord noticed my surprise, and said,
that throughout the kingdom it was the custom to vary their lives with a
due mixture of earnest duties and amusing pleasures. Theatrical plays
are very much in vogue with them. I was vexed, however, to hear that
disputations are reckoned suitable for the stage, while with us they are
confined to the universities.
At certain times in the year, disputants are set against each other, as
we pit dogs and game cocks. High bets are made in favor of one or the
other, and a premium is given to the winner.
Beside these disputants, who are called Masbakki, or boxers, various
quadrupeds, wild as well as tame, are trained to fight as on our globe.
In this town a gymnasium is established, in which the liberal arts are
taught with much success.
My landlord carried me, on a high festival day, to this academy. On this
occasion a Madic, or teacher in philosophy, was elected. The candidate
made a very prosy speech on some philosophical question, after which,
without farther ceremony, he was entered, by the administrators, on
the list of the public teachers.
On our way home from the academy, we met a criminal, led by three
watchmen. By sentence of the kaki, he had been bled, and was now on his
way to the city hospital. I inquired concerning his crime, and was
answered, that he had publicly lectured on the being and qualities of
God--a subject entirely forbidden in this country. Disputants on these
matters are regarded as insane, and are always sent to the mad-house,
where they are doctored, until they recover their sound reason. I
exclaimed: Heaven and Earth! how would such laws operate on our globe,
where thousands of priests quarrel every day about the divine
attributes, the nature of spirits, and other secrets of the same
character? Truly, here they would all be sent straight-way to the
mad-house. These, among many other singular customs, I observed during
my college life. Finally, the time came when, furnished with appropriate
testimonies from the teachers, I was ordered to court. Here is my
certificate. How angry and confused, was I, when I read it:--
"In accordance with your royal order, we hereby send the
animal, which sometime since came down to us from the
firmament; which animal calls itself man. We have, with
sedulous care and patient industry, taught this singular
creature in our school, and after a very severe examination,
pronounce it to be very quick in its perceptions and very
docile in its manners. Nevertheless, from its obtuse and
miserable judgment--which we believe arises from its too
hasty inferences--its ridiculous scepticism on
unquestionable points, and its no less ridiculous credulity
on doubtful ones, we may scarcely number it among sensible
beings. However, as it is far quicker on its legs than any
of our race, we humbly suggest, that it is very well adapted
for the situation of a running-camp-footman. Written at our
Seminary at Keba by your Highness' most humble servants.
NEHEK, JOKTAN, RAPASI, KILAK."
I returned sorrowfully to my landlord, and begged of him with tears in
my eyes, to use his influence to alter the nature of my certificate from
the Karatti, and to show them my testimony from the academy of
Copenhagen, in which I was represented as a remarkable student. He
replied to me, "that this diploma might be well enough in Copenhagen,
where probably the shadow was regarded more than the substance: the bark
more than the sap; but here, where the kernel was more important than
aught else, it was of no use."
He counselled me to bear my fate with patience, and assured me, in the
politest manner, of his friendship. Having nothing more to say, I made
ready, without delay, for the journey. There travelled in company with
me several small trees, which had been educated with me in the seminary,
and were now destined to the capital for preferment.
Our leader was an old Karatti, who rode on an ox, because from his age
he could not walk. Our progress was very slow, so that three days were
occupied in our passage. We had a quick and comfortable jaunt, if I
except the meeting with some wild monkeys, that would spring towards me,
and pester me now and then. They evidently supposed me to be one of
their race. I could not suppress my anger, however, when I observed that
the trees seemed to perceive this mistake of the monkeys, which gave the
saplings food for laughter at my expense. I must remark that I was
carried to court in the same dress which I wore on my descent to the
planet, with the boat-hook in my hand and the rope dragging after me.
This was by order of the king, who wished to see me in my own bark.
THE ROYAL COURT OF POTU.
At last, we entered the large and splendid capital of the kingdom of
We were first carried to a house, where all students from the country
seminaries are received, for the purpose of refreshment. Here we
prepared for an interview with the king. In the mean time our Karatti,
or leader went before to announce us to the court. On his return, we
were all ordered to follow him. On our way to court we met several small
trees, with printed stories in their branches. These were literary
hawkers. I accidentally fixed my eye upon the title of one of these
books. It was: "A true account of an entirely new and wonderful meteor,
or flying dragon, which was seen last year in the heavens." I knew this
was myself, and therefore purchased the book, for which three
kilak--about two cents--were demanded. On the title page I found an
engraving of myself, as I appeared while hovering over the planet,
accompanied by boat-hook and rope. We now approached the castle, an
extensive series of battlements and buildings, more distinguished for
its strength and delicacy of finish than for splendor. It presented to
my view a very singular, and, I may say rural, appearance, from the vast
number of trees on the walls.
It was now noon, and the dinner hour. The king wishing to see me before
he dined, I was brought alone to the dining hall. The king received me
very graciously, uniting in a remarkable degree, while addressing me,
mildness of tone with dignity of expression.
At my entrance into the hall, I knelt before the throne: the king
demanded the meaning of the ceremony. Having told him the reason, he
remarked, that such worship was due only to the Divinity. When I had
raised myself, he put to me several questions--demanding how I had come
down?--the reason of my journey--my name--where I came from, &c., all
which questions I answered truly. Finally, he inquired concerning my
religion, and was evidently much pleased with our creed. I was ordered
to wait till dinner was over. At the table were seated with the King,
the Queen, Prince, and Kadok, or great chancellor. At a certain sign, a
maiden tree entered, bearing in her eight branches, as many dishes,
which was the number daily served at the royal table. Another tree
entered with eight bottles, filled with as many different juices. In the
dinner conversation, frequent mention was made of myself.
After dinner, the King ordered me to show my testimony. After reading
it, he looked at my legs. "The Karatti are perfectly right!" said he;
"and their advice shall be followed." A Kiva, or secretary, was now sent
for, to enter me, among others, in the royal register of promotion. This
Kiva was a tree of remarkable external appearance; he had eleven
branches--a singular number--and was able to write eleven letters at
once. With this tree I afterwards became very intimate; he wrote all the
letters which I, as footman, carried about the country.
On receiving my appointment, I went to bed. Although I was much
fatigued, I could not get any sleep for a long while. However, I fell,
at last, into an uneasy slumber, from which I was suddenly roused by an
uncommonly large monkey, which, on opening my eyes, I found playing all
manner of tricks with me, much to the amusement of several young trees,
my companions. The king laughed heartily over the jokes of the monkeys,
when they were related to him, but at the same time, ordered me to be
clothed in the subterranean manner; that is, ornamented with branches,
as I had been at my first arrival below ground. My European clothes were
taken from me and hung up in the museum, with the following description
DRESS OF THE CREATURES ABOVE GROUND.
After my fright from the monkey, I got no more sleep. In the morning I
rose with the sun, and went to receive my charge for the day. An
innumerable number of errands were given me to perform, together with
letters and documents directed to all parts of the country.
This life I led four years; during my rambles I studied the character of
the inhabitants, and copied, as far as possible, their habits. The
people generally are distinguished for the politeness of their manners,
and the sensibleness of their notions. The citizens of the town of
_Maholki_, only, are wanting in refinement and judgment; they are thorn
trees; very obstinate and crabbed in disposition, and great gossips,
withal; let one take you by the button and you cannot get away easily.
Each province is peopled by its own race of trees; in the country each
village has one sect; but the large cities contain a mixed population.
I had a good opportunity, as courier-general, to observe the
peculiarities of these people, and I shall now describe their polity and
religion, their laws and sciences.
THE KINGDOM OF POTU AND ITS INHABITANTS.
The kingdom of _Potu_ is enclosed within very narrow boundaries, and
occupies but a small space of the inner globe.
The whole planet _Nazar_ is scarcely six hundred miles in circumference,
and may be travelled over its whole extent without guide or interpreter,
for there is but one language throughout. As the Europeans on our globe
take the first rank among the nations, so are the _Potuans_
distinguished among the nations of _Nazar_ for their virtue and
The roads are dotted by stone pillars, which, covered with inscriptions,
denote every mile; affixed to them are hands pointing the road to every
city and village;--splendid cities and prosperous villages! The country
is intersected by greater and lesser canals, on which boats propelled by
oars, skim with wonderful celerity. The oars are driven by self-moving
machines, so quietly that very little motion is given to the water. The
planet Nazar has the same motion with the earth, and all the
peculiarities of the latter planet: night and day; spring, summer,
autumn, and winter. The inhabitants consist of oak, lime, poplar, thorn,
and pine trees, from which the months--there being six in each
subterranean year--take their names.
The chronology is peculiar, being fixed by remarkable occurrences. Their
oldest tradition is, that three thousand years ago, a mighty comet
appeared, immediately after which followed a flood, which swept off all
the races of trees, animals, &c., with the exception of one or two of
each race, who saved themselves upon a high mountain, and from whom
descended the present inhabitants. Corn and other grain with the fruits
common to Europe, grow here in great profusion. The waters are filled
with fish, and upon the banks of the rivers are seated splendid country
houses. Their drink is prepared from certain herbs, which bloom at all
times of the year.
In _Potu_ is established a very useful law called the "generation law."
This law varies the liberties and advantages of the people according to
the number of children each one possesses. Thus, he who is the father of
six children is exempted from all common and extraordinary taxes.
Therefore generation is quite as useful and desirable in this country as
on the earth it is burthensome and dangerous: below ground never was
such a thing imagined as a small-pox-tax.
No one can hold two offices at once. It is thought that each office,
however small, requires the sole attention of its occupant, and that
none should be employed in that which they do not understand.
I remember to have heard the philosopher _Rakbasi_ speak thus: "Every
one should know his own talents, and should impartially judge of his
own merits and faults; otherwise the actor must be considered more
sensible than natural men; for he chooses, not the best part, but that
which he can execute best. Shall we allow the actor to be wiser on the
stage than we in life?"
The inhabitants of this kingdom are not divided into classes; those
alone being regarded who are noted for virtue and industry. The highest
rank, if rank it may be called, is given to those who possess the
greatest number of branches, they being enabled to do the most work.
THE RELIGION OF THE POTUANS.
The system of religion in _Potu_ is very simple.
It is forbidden, under pain of banishment to the firmament, to explain
the holy books; whoever dares to dispute the being and nature of the
Deity, is sent to the mad-house and is bled. It is foolish, they say, to
attempt to describe that to which our senses are as blind as the eyes of
the owl in sunshine. All agree in worshiping a superior being, whose
omnipotence has created and whose providence maintains all things. Each
one is permitted to think and worship as he pleases; they only who
publicly attack the prevailing religion, are punished as
peace-disturbers. The people pray seldom, but with so ardent a devotion,
that a looker-on would think them enraptured during the continuance of
I told them that it was our custom to pray and sing psalms, while at our
domestic duties. This they blamed. "An earthly king," said they, "would
be angry should one who came to petition for something, brush his
clothes and comb his hair in the presence of his sovereign."
They have many curious notions of religion, which they defend very
artfully; for example, when I remarked to some of them whose friendship
I had gained, that they could not expect to be blessed after death,
since they walked in darkness here, they answered: "He, who with
severity condemned others, was himself in danger of being condemned."
I once advised them to pray every day. They did not deny the importance
of prayer, but thought true religion consisted in obeying the will of
God. "Suppose," continued they, "that a king has two kinds of subjects:
some err every day, violating from ignorance or malice the ruler's
commands; they come each day with petitions and deprecations to the
palace, beg pardon for their faults, and depart only to recommit them.
"The others come seldom, and never voluntarily to court, but execute
faithfully and diligently every of the king's commands, and thereby
evince the respect and loyalty due to him.
"Will not the king think these deserving of his love, as good subjects
and faithful; but, on the contrary, those as evil subjects, burthensome
as well for their misdeeds as for their frequent petitions?"
There are five festival days during the year. The first of these, which
takes place at the beginning of the oak month, is solemnized with great
devotion, in dark places, where not a ray of light is suffered to enter,
signifying that the being they worship is inconceivable. The festival is
called the "inconceivable-God's-day." The whole day, from sunrise to
sunset, the people remain immovable, engaged in earnest and heart-felt
prayer. In the four other festivals, thanks to God for his blessings
form the principal ceremonies.
THE POTUAN CONSTITUTION.
In the kingdom of Potu the crown is inherited, as with us, by the eldest
son of the king, whose power is absolute. The government, however, is
rather fatherly than tyrannical. Justice is not meted and bounded by law
alone, but is the result of principle, a principle of the widest
philosophic comprehension. Thus, monarchy and liberty are closely
united, which otherwise would be inimical to each other. The ruler seeks
to maintain, as far as possible, an equality among his subjects. Honors
are not limited to any class; but the poorer and more ignorant are
called upon to receive their opinions from and submit to the decisions
of the richer and more intelligent: the young are to respect the aged.
The annals of Potu show that some centuries ago, certain classes were
highly favored by the laws to the exclusion of the great body of the
people; frequent disturbances had been the result of this favoritism,
till a citizen of the town Keba, proposed an alteration in the laws, by
which all distinctions of class were abolished, and while the office of
king should still remain hereditary, all the other officers of
government should be subject to the will of the people, all of whom
should be allowed to vote, who could read and write, at least, their
According to the custom of the subterraneans in such affairs, this
intelligent and patriotic citizen was led to the market-place, with a
rope about his neck: his proposition was considered, and after grave
deliberation was adopted, as conducive to the general interest.
The mover was then carried in triumph through the city, honored by the
grateful shouts of the people.
He, who has the most numerous offspring, is regarded as the most
deserving citizen; he is honored above all others, without exception.
Such men are looked upon as heroes, and their memory is sainted by
posterity. They only receive the name, which on the earth is awarded to
the disturbers and enemies of the race--the name of--great!
It is very easy to conceive of the degree in which Alexander and Julius
Cęsar would be prized by this people; both of whom not only had no
children themselves, but murdered millions of the offspring of others.
I remember to have read the following inscription on the tomb of a Keban
"Here lies Jorktan the great, the hero of his time, father of thirty
Among the court officers the Kadori, or grand-chamberlain, is the
superior. Next after him comes the Smizian, or treasurer. In my time,
the seven-branched widow, Kahagna, filled the latter place. She was a
virtuous and industrious woman; although her duties were many and
important, she nursed her child herself. I remarked once, that I thought
this to be troublesome and unfit for so great a lady. I was replied to
in this wise: "For what purpose has nature given breasts to woman? for
the ornament of the body alone,--or for the nourishment of their
The crown prince was a child of six years; his governor was the wisest
tree in the kingdom. I have seen an abstract of moral philosophy and
policy, written by him for the use of the prince, the title of which is
Mahalda Libal Helit, which in the subterranean language means, The
Country's Rudder. It contains many fundamental and useful precepts, of
which I recollect the following:
"1st. Neither praise nor blame should be too hastily credited; judgment
should be deferred until accurate knowledge of the matter is obtained.
"2d. When a tree is accused of any crime, and the accusation is
supported, then the life of the culprit must be examined, his good and
evil actions must be compared, and judgment be given according to the
preponderance of either.
"3d. The king must be accurately acquainted with the opinions of his
subjects, and must strive to keep union among them.
"4th. Punishment is not less necessary than reward. The former restrains
evil; the latter promotes good.
"5th. Sound reason teaches that especial regard should be had to the
fitness of candidates to public offices; but, though piety and honesty
go to form the greatest merit, yet, as the appearance of these virtues
is often imposed on us for the reality, no tree should be severely
judged till he gets into office, when he will show himself what he is.
"6th. To make a treasurer of a poor man, or a bankrupt, is to make a
hungry wolf purveyor of the kitchen. The case of a rich miser is still
stronger; the bankrupt or the penniless may set bounds to their
peculation; the miser never has enough.
"7th. When the prevalence of vice renders a reformation necessary, great
care and deliberation must be used; to banish at once, and in a mass,
old and rooted faults, would be like prescribing laxative and
restringent medicines at the same time to an invalid.
"8th. They who boldly promise everything, and take upon themselves many
duties, are either fools who know not their own powers or the importance
of affairs, or are mean and unjust citizens who regard their own and not
their country's welfare."
THE ACADEMIES OF POTU.
In this kingdom are three academies; one in Potu, one in Keba, and one
The sciences taught in them are history, political economy, mathematics,
and jurisprudence. Their theological creed is so short that it can be
written on two pages. It contains this doctrine simply, that God, the
creator of all things, shall be loved and honored; and that He will, in
an other life, reward us for our virtues and punish us for our vices.
Theology forms no part of an academical course, as it is forbidden by
law to discuss these matters. Neither is medicine numbered among the
studies; for, as the trees live moderately, there is no such thing as
The students are employed in solving complicated and difficult
questions, and he who most elegantly and clearly explains his question,
is entitled to a reward. No one studies more than one science, and thus
each gets a full knowledge of his peculiar subject.
The teachers themselves are obliged to give, each year, a proof of their
learning. The teachers of philosophy are required to solve some problem
in morals; the historians, to _elaborate_ some passage in history; the
jurists, to elucidate some intricate point of law; these last are the
only professors expected to be good orators. I told them that the study
of rhetoric was common to all students in our colleges, and that all
studies were merged in it. They disapproved of this, saying, that should
all mechanics strive to make a masterly shoe, the work of most would be
bad, and the shoemakers alone would win the prize.
Besides these academies, there are preparatory gymnasiums, where great
pains are taken to discover the bent of the young, that they may be
brought up in that science to which they are best fitted. While I was at
the seminary of Keba, the bishop had four sons there, preparing for a
military course; four others, whose father was a counsellor, were
learning mechanical arts, and two maidens were studying navigation. The
rank and sex of the scholars are entirely overlooked, in their regard to
fitness and propriety.
He who challenges another to fight, loses forever his right to use
weapons, and is condemned to live under guardianship, as one who cannot
curb his passions or temper his judgment. I observed that the names of
parties who go to law, are kept secret from the judge, he not being an
inhabitant of the place where the trial is carried on. The object of
this singular law is to prevent all partiality and bribery on the part
of the judge, by withholding from him all knowledge of the influence or
property of the litigants.
Justice is executed without regard to persons. The king, indeed, is not
required to appear in court, but after death, his memory is put to the
bar of public opinion, and his life is vindicated or condemned through
the peoples' advocates. This trial takes place before the Senate, and
judgment is freely pronounced according to the weight of the evidence. A
herald proclaims the decision, which is inscribed on the king's
monument. The words used in these trials are: Praiseworthy,--good,--not
bad,--moderate,--tolerable. Sentence must be pronounced by one of these
The Potuans give the following reason for this custom. The living king
cannot be brought to justice without causing rebellion. As long as he
lives, the people owe to him blind obedience and constant reverence. But
when the king is dead, the bond between them is dissolved, and, his
memory belonging to them, they are bound to justify it as his virtues
and vices principally affected themselves.
The Potuanic annals show that for centuries only one king has received
the last degree of judgment--tolerable--or, in their tongue:
_Rip-fac-si_. This was King _Mikleta_. Although the Potuans are well
versed in arms, and defend themselves bravely, when attacked, they
never make war on others.
But this king excited by a miserable desire to extend the borders of his
empire, entered into an offensive war with his neighbors, and subdued
many of them.
The Potuans gained, indeed, in power and wealth, but they suffered more
from the loss of friendship and the increase of fear and envy in the
conquered. The honorable regard for justice and equity, to which they
had hitherto owed their prosperity and supremacy, began from that time
to fade. On the death of Mikleta, however, the people recovered from
their folly, and showed their regret for it, while at the same time they
regained the good will of their neighbors, by putting a blot upon the
memory of their ruler.
But, to return to myself. I took but little pleasure in associating with
my companions, a set of absurd trees, who constantly ridiculed me for my
This quality, I have already said, I was blamed for, very early in my
career but by learned trees, with grave and dignified complaisance.
These saplings, on the contrary, pestered me with silly nicknames. For
example, they took a malicious delight in calling me Skabba, which means
an untimely or unripe thing.
THE JOURNEY AROUND THE PLANET NAZAR.
I had now performed the toilsome duties of a courier for two years,
having been every where with orders and letters. I was tired of this
troublesome and unbecoming business. I sent to the king petition after
petition, asking for my discharge, and soliciting for a more honorable
appointment. But I was repeatedly refused, for his majesty did not think
my abilities would warrant promotion. He condescended to refer me to the
laws and customs, which allowed those only to be placed in respectable
and important offices, who were fitted for them by talent and virtue.
It was necessary, he continued, that I should remain where I was, till I
could, by my merits, pave my way to distinction. He concluded thus:
Study to know yourself, is wisdom's rule;
The wise man reasons,--blunders, still, the fool.
Strive not with feeble powers great weights to move,
Before your shoulders long experience prove.
I was thus obliged to remain, as patiently as I could, in my old
service, amusing myself in thinking how to bring my talents to the
light. In my continual journeys about the country, I studied the nature
of the people, the quality of the soil; and, in short, became accurately
acquainted with every thing worthy of observation. That I might not
forget any thing, I used myself to write notes of each journey. These
notes I enlarged afterwards, as well as I could, and was thus enabled to
deliver to the king a volume of considerable size.
I soon observed that this work was far from being displeasing to his
majesty. He read it through with attention, and then recommended it to
the senate with much ceremony. It was soon determined that I should be
made use of to discover and make known whatever there was of interest
throughout the planet. Truly! I expected some other reward for my
sleepless nights and laborious days, than still greater burthens, still
heavier travail. But I could only in silence sigh with the poet:
"Alas! that Virtue should be praised by all,--
Should warm, with its mild beams, all hearts:
Yet mock and freeze its owner."
However, as I have always had a great desire to see and hear every thing
new, and expected, withal, a magnificent reward from the really
kind-hearted king on my return, I set about this work with a kind of
Although the planet Nazar is but about six hundred miles in
circumference, it seems, to the trees, of vast extent, principally on
account of their slow movement. No Potuan could go round it in less time
than two years, whereas, I, with my long legs, could traverse it easily
in two months.
I set out on this journey in the Poplar month.
Most of the things which I shall now relate, are so curious, that the
reader may be easily brought to believe them to be written from mere
whim, or at least to be poetical contrivance. The physical and moral
diversities are so many and so great, on this planet, that a man who has
only considered the difference between the antipodal nations of the
earth, can form but a faint idea of the same. It must be observed that
the nations of Nazar are divided by sounds and seas, and that this globe
is a kind of Archipelago.
It would be wearisome to relate all my adventures, and I shall limit my
remarks to those people who seemed to me the most remarkable.
The only things which I found in common with all, were figure and
language. All were trees. But in customs, gestures, and sense, so great
was the diversity, that each province appeared like a new world.
In Quamso, the province next to Potu, the inhabitants are entirely oak
trees. They know not of bodily weakness or disease, but arrive in
perfect and continued health to a very great age. They seem to be the
most fortunate of all creatures; but I found, after some intercourse
with them, that this assumption was a great mistake. Although I never
saw any of them sad, yet none appeared to be happy. The purest heaven
is never impressive, but after a storm; so happiness is not appreciated
by these oaks, because it is never interrupted; they bless not health,
because they are never sick. They spend their lives in tame and
uninterrupted indifference. Possessed of little politeness and goodness
of heart, their conversation is cold and cheerless; their manners stiff
and haughty. Without passions, they are crimeless; without weakness,
they are pitiless.
Those alone to whom pain and sickness bring the remembrance of their
mortality, learn in their own sufferings, to sympathise with and
compassionate the woes of others.
I was now in a land, where I had a living proof of how much the
occurrence of pain and the fear of death tend to produce mutual love and
cheerful converse among fellow beings. Here, for the first time, I came
to know the folly and sin of grumbling at the Creator, for bringing upon
us trouble and suffering, which are really good for us, and which
produce the happiest consequences.
The province Lalak, which is sometimes called Maskatta, or the Blessed
Land, was the next in the order of my journey. This land is very
appropriately named. All things spring forth spontaneously:
Here, between melon vines and moist strawberry,
Flow milky brooks and amber streams of mead;
There, luscious wine, from crystal, spouts more merry,
As Bacchus from his slumber had been freed.
Far down along the mountain's verdant side,
The limpid juice, with golden lustre, ripples.
In dales, soft undulating, oozing glide
Sweet waters, out of teeming nature's nipples;
And trees of Paradise their branches reach,
Bending with purple plum and mellow peach.
From all the land nutritious savors rise,
To bless its sons, then mount to scent the skies.
These advantages do not, by any means, make the inhabitants happy. It
occurred to me, that laborers in harsher climates are much better off
than these people, who necessarily languish in idleness and luxury.
Next to Lalak is Mardak, inhabited by cypresses. Of these are different
descents or races, determined by the number or shape of their eyes. Here
is a list of the varieties:
Nagiri, who have oblong eyes; to whom all objects appear oblong.
Naquire, whose eyes are square.
Palampi, who have very small eyes.
Jaraku, with two eyes, which are turned in opposite directions.
Mehanki, with three eyes.
Panasuki, with four eyes.
Harramba, whose eyes occupy the whole forehead; and finally,
Skodolki, who have a single eye in the neck.
The most numerous and powerful of these races, are the Nagirians. Kings,
senators and priests are always chosen from this class. None are
admitted to any office, but those who acknowledge and testify by oath,
that a certain table, dedicated to the sun and placed in the temple, is
oblong. This table is the holiest object of mardakanic worship. The
oath, to be taken by aspirants to honors, is as follows:
"Kaki manaska quihampu miriac jakku, mesimbrii caphani crukkia, manaskar
"I swear, that the holy table of the sun seems oblong to me, and I
promise to remain in this opinion until my last breath."
When the neophyte, of either class, has sworn this oath, he is taken up
among the Nagirians, and is qualified for any office. On the day after
my arrival, as I walked in the market-place, I met a party bearing an
old man to the whipping post. I asked them the nature of his offence,
and was told that he was a heretic, who had publicly declared that the
holy table of the sun appeared square to him.
I immediately entered the temple, being curious to know whether or not
my eyes were orthodox. The table was certainly square to my view, and I
said so to my landlord, on my return. This tree, who had been recently
appointed a church-warden, drew a deep sigh on this occasion, and
confessed that it also seemed square to him, but that he dared not
express such an opinion, openly, from fear of being ejected from office,
if not worse.
Trembling in every joint, I quietly left this region, fearful that my
back might suffer on account of my heterodox vision.
The duchy of Kimal is considered the mightiest and richest of the states
on this planet. There are numberless silver mines within its borders:
the sand of its rivers is colored by gold, and its coasts are paved with
pearl oysters of the finest water.
The people of this province, nevertheless, are more miserable than those
of any other I visited. They are miners, gold-strainers and
pearl-divers, condemned to the most infamous slavery, drenched in water,
or secluded from air and light, and all for the sake of dear gain. How
strange and senseless is the lust for brilliant baubles!
The possessors of wealth are obliged to keep a continual watch over
their property, for the land is full of robbers. None can travel without
an armed retinue. Thus, this people, on which their neighbors look with
longing eyes, should deserve pity rather than excite envy. Fear,
mistrust and jealousy rage in all hearts: each regards his neighbor as
an enemy. Sorrows and terrors, sleepless nights, pale faces and
trembling hands are the fruits of that very wealth, which their
neighbors look upon as the greatest good.
My wanderings through Kimal were the most unpleasant and dangerous in
all my experience. My course was towards the east. I journeyed among
many people, who were generally polite and social, but whose customs
were not singular enough to merit particular attention. I had much cause
to wonder, when I came among the Quambojas, in whom nature was entirely
perverted. The older these people grow, the more lustful they become.
Rashness, lasciviousness and roguery increase with years. None are
suffered to hold offices after the fortieth year. At this age, the
wildness and moral insensibility of boyhood begins; the sports of
childhood, only, are tolerated. The tree becomes a minor, and is placed
under the guardianship of his younger relations.
I did not think it advisable to remain long in Quamboja, where in a few
years, I should be sentenced to become a child again.
I witnessed a perversion of a different kind in Kokleku. In the former
province, nature is the agent of this perversion; here the law is the
agent. The Koklekuans are juniper trees.
The males alone cook and perform all domestic duties. In time of war,
they serve in the army, but always in the ranks. To the females, are
entrusted all civil, divine and military offices. The females reason
thus: The males are endowed with greater bodily strength, and greater
powers of endurance; therefore, it is clear that nature intended them to
do all the work. But this will keep them so busy, that they will not
have time to think. Moreover, as continual physical labor degrades the
mind, if they should presume to think, their thoughts would be puerile,
and practically useless. Therefore, it is plain, that to the females
belongs the direction of affairs. The lady of the house may be found in
the study with books and papers about her, while the master is in the
kitchen cooking and washing.
I saw many mournful effects of this inconsistent custom.
In other places, females are to be found, who bring their chastity to
market and trade with their charms. Here the young males sell their
nights, and for this end congregate in certain dwellings, before which
signs are hung out. When these males get to be too troublesome, they are
punished as prostitutes are, elsewhere. Females stroll about the
streets, beckon to the men, stare at them, whistle and cry psh! to
them; chuckle them under the chin and do all manner of tricks, without
the least sense of shame. These females boast of their victories, as
dandies, with us, plume themselves on their intimacy with ladies, whose
only favor may have been a sharp box on the ear. None are here blamed
for besieging a young male with love letters and presents. But a young
fellow would be looked upon as having outraged all decency, should he
stammer out a faint yes, to the first entreaty of a young female.
At the time I was in the country a terrible commotion arose on account
of the violation of a senator's son by a young virgin. She was generally
condemned for this high-handed and abominable action. The friends of the
youth insisted that she should be prosecuted, and if the crime were
proved, sentenced to mend the young fellow's honor by marrying him,
especially as it could be sworn to that he had lived a pure and virtuous
life till this libertiness had seduced him.
Blessed Europe! I exclaimed on this occasion; thrice blessed France and
England! where the names--weaker sex--frail vessels--are no idle
names:--where the wives are so entirely subjected to their husbands that
they seem to be rather machines or automatons than creatures endowed
with free will and noble aspirations!
The most splendid building in Kokleku is the Queen's harem, in which
three hundred beautiful young fellows are shut up for life. So jealous
is the queen, that no female is allowed to approach the walls within one
hundred yards. Never beholding any of their race but the queen and a few
dried-up and ugly spinsters, the poor creatures vegetate, mindless and
Having heard, accidentally, that my form had been praised in the
presence of the queen, I hastily escaped from this unnatural and
--Fear to my feet gave wings.
Continuing my course still to the east, I came to the
philosophical-land, as its inhabitants, who are principally engaged in
the study of philosophy and the sciences, vain-gloriously call it. I had
long and earnestly wished to see this land, which I enthusiastically
ascribed to be the seat of the muses.
I hurried on with all possible celerity. But the roads were so full of
stones, holes and bogs, that I was delayed, besmirched, and bruised.
However, I endured these troubles patiently, anticipating the delights
that awaited me, and well knowing that the path to paradise is not over
roses. When I had struggled onward for an hour I met a peasant, of whom,
after saluting him, I demanded how far distant the borders of Maskattia
were? "You should rather ask," he replied, "how far you must go
back;--for you are now in the very middle of it!"
In great astonishment I asked, "How is it, that a land inhabited by pure
philosophers, should appear like the abode of wild animals and ignorant
barbarians?" "Indeed," said the peasant, "It would look better if the
people could find time to attend to such trifles. At present they must
be excused, for they have higher and nobler things in their heads: they
are now speculating about the shortest road to the sun. Nobody can blow
and swallow at the same time."
I understood the meaning of the cunning peasant, and left him, after
getting the direction to the capital city, Casea. Instead of guards and
the usual collection about the gates of a large town, hens and geese
strutted about at their ease: in the crevices of the gate hung
birds-nests and cobwebs.
In the streets philosophers and swine were mingled together, and both
classes being alike filthy, they were only to be distinguished from each
other by form.
The philosophers wore a kind of cloak, of the color of which I should
not dare to give an opinion, so thick was the dirt upon them. I was run
into by one of these wise men, who seemed to be enraptured by some
"I beg pardon, master of arts!" I exclaimed, "may I ask of you the name
of this town?" He stood for some time immovable, with closed eyes; then
recovering somewhat from his trance, and rolling his eyes upwards, he
muttered: "We are not far from noon!"
This untimely answer, which betrayed a perfect insensibility, convinced
me that intelligence resulting from methodical and practical study is
preferable to the torpid insanity incident to much learning.
I went on, hoping to meet with some sensible animal, or any body rather
than a philosopher. In the market-place,--a very extensive square,--were
a great many statues and pillars, covered with inscriptions.
I approached one of them to get, if possible, the meaning of the
characters. While engaged in spelling the words, my back suddenly became
warm, and immediately after I felt warm water trickling down my legs. I
turned round to discover the fountain of the stream, and, lo! an
abstracted philosopher was performing, at ease on my back, the same
operation that the dogs do against the study.
This infamous trick excited my wrath, and I gave him a severe blow.
The philosopher regained his wits at this, and seizing me by the hair,
dragged me around the market-place. Our struggles soon brought us both
to the ground. Then a multitude of philosophers came running towards us,
and having dragged me from under my opponent, beat me with their sticks
till I became senseless. I was then carried to a large house and thrown
into the middle of the hall. I now recovered in a measure from my ill
On seeing this, the wise man who first insulted me, recommenced to beat
me, notwithstanding my prayers for mercy. I now learned that the
intensity of no anger can be compared to the philosophical; and that the
teachers of virtue and moderation are not called upon to practise the
same. The longer my oppressor beat me, the more did his blood boil. At
last there came into the hall four sophists, whose cloaks proclaimed
them to be of a different class from my late tyrants. They had some
compassion for me, and soothed the rage of the others. I was taken to
another house, and right glad was I to escape the hands of the bandits,
and get among honest people.
I related to my protectors the cause of the calamity. They laughed
heartily at the whole matter, and then explained to me that the
philosopher, absorbed in deep thought, had mistaken me for a pillar
before which it is customary, on certain natural occasions, to stop.
Just when I supposed myself in safety. I nearly gave up the ghost from
fear. I was led into a dissecting room, filled with bones and dead
bodies, the stench from which was intolerable.
After languishing in this disgusting den for half an hour, the lady of
the house brought in my dinner, which she had prepared herself. She was
very polite and amiable; but looked at me closely, and sighed
continually. I asked the reason of her sorrow. She answered, "that she
became sick when she thought of what I was to suffer."
"You have, indeed," she said, "come among honest people, for my husband,
who lives in this house, is a doctor of medicine, and the others are his
colleagues: but your uncommon figure has awakened their curiosity, and
they have determined to take your internal structure into close
consideration. In fine, they intend to cut you up, in the hope of
finding some new phenomena in anatomy." I was thunder-struck at hearing
these tidings. I cried out indignantly:
"How can people be called honest, madam! who entertain strangers only to
cut them up?"
"You should stick your fingers in the ground," she replied, "and smell
the land you have got into!" I begged her with tears in my eyes to
intercede for me. She answered, "My intercession would be of no service
to you: but I will endeavor to save you by other means." She then took
my hand, carefully led me out by a back door, and guided me to the city
Here I would have taken leave of my kind and gentle guide; but while
manifesting my gratitude in the most lively expressions, she suddenly
interrupted my speech and signified her intention not to leave me till I
should be in perfect safety. She would not be persuaded to return. We
walked on together. Meanwhile she entertained me with just and sensible
remarks on the customs and follies of the people. Afterwards she turned
the discourse to more delicate matters. We were at some distance from
the city. My soft companion adverted to the danger from which she had
saved me, and suddenly demanded of me, in return, a politeness which was
She told me with much feeling and warmth of the unfortunate fate of
females in this land:--that the philosophers, entirely absorbed by their
speculations, and buried among their books, neglect to an alarming
extent, the duties of marriage. "Yes," she continued, "I can swear to
you, that we should be wholly undone if some polite traveller did not
occasionally take pity on our miserable condition, and mitigate our
I pretended not to understand her meaning, and showed the usual
common-place and complacent sympathy.
But my coolness was as oil to the flame. I increased my pace. The poor
lady, whose heart had hitherto been subjected to the sweet-smiling
goddess, now changed to a fury.
I fled from my new danger. Fear and length of legs enabled me to
outstrip her. Mingled with her shrieks, opprobrious epithets fell fast;
the last I could distinguish were: _Kaki Spalaki_:--ungrateful hound!
I passed on to other provinces, in which I found but little uncommon and
I now thought that I had seen all the wonders of Nazar. But when I came
to the land of Cabac, more curious and more incredible things were
disclosed to my gaze. Among the Cabacans there is a certain class
without heads. These are born without that appendage. They speak through
a hole in the middle of the breast. On account of this natural defect,
they are generally excluded from offices where brains are thought to be
useful. They are notwithstanding a serviceable class: the most of them
are to be seen at court; being gentlemen of the bed-chamber, stewards of
the household, keepers of the harem, &c.
Beadles, vestry-clerks and such brainless officers are chosen from this
Occasionally one of them is taken up into the senate, either by the
particular favor of government, or through the influence of friends.
This is done, generally, without injury to the country; for it is well
known that the business of the country is carried on by a few senators,
and that the rest are only useful to fill the seats, and agree and
subscribe to the determinations of the leaders.
The inhabitants of the two provinces, Cambara and Spelek, are all lime
trees. But their resemblance ends in form. The Cambarans live only about
four years. The Spelekians, on the other hand, attain to the wonderful
age of four hundred years.
In the former place, the people have their full growth a few weeks after
birth, and finish their education before the first year. During the
three remaining years they prepare for death. The province appeared to
be a true Platonic republic, in which all the virtues reached to their
perfection. The inhabitants, on account of their short lives, are, as it
were, continually on the wing. They regard this life as a gate through
which they hastily pass. Their hearts are fixed on the future rather
than on the present. They may be called true philosophers, for they care
not for luxury and pleasure, but strive through fear of God, virtuous
actions, and clear consciences, to make themselves worthy of eternal
happiness. In a word, this land seemed to be the habitation of saints
and angels;--the only school of virtue.
I was here brought to think of the unreasonableness of those who grumble
at the shortness of life,--those quarrellers with providence! Life can
be called short when passed in luxury and idleness. The shortest life is
long when it is well employed.
In Spelek, on the contrary, all the vices common to erring creatures
seem to be congregated. The people have only the present in their minds,
for the future has no sensible vanishing point. Sincerity, honesty,
chastity and decency have taken flight to give place to falsehood,
lasciviousness, and bad manners.
I was happy to get away from this province, although I was obliged to
traverse desolate and rocky regions which lay beyond it. These deserts
separate Spelek from Spalank, or the "Innocent Land."
This name is obtained from the meekness and innocence of the
inhabitants. These are all stone oaks, and are thought to be the
happiest of all sensible beings. They are not subject to any agitation
of mind, and are free from all vices.
Free, of compulsion ignorant, did all obey
The simple rules of nature. Justice easy
And virtue unadorned they practised; for unknown
Were punishment and fear. On no holy stone
Were menaces engraved: no holy table
Declared the thunders of the law. None trembled
At the ruler's frown or nod: but, without guard,--
With sharpened steel on shoulder ready poised,--
Or castled wall bristling with murder's tools,
Were all ranks safe. On no battle-field
Was victor crowned or bloody altar
Heaped with his kinsmen's corpses.
And pleasant tales, in infant innocence they lived
(The innocence that lies in mother's lap unstained.)
Thus passed they from the fond embrace of peace,
With easy change to Death's determined grasp.
When I came to this province, I found that the reputation which these
people had gained, namely: that they practised virtue from inclination
rather than from the authority of law--was well founded.
But as envy and ambition were entirely unknown to them,--the inducements
to excel, and the will for great things were wanting.
They had no palaces, no courts, no fine buildings. They had no
magistrates to administer law; no avarice to carry them to court. In
fine, although without vices, they knew nothing of the arts,--of
splendid virtues,--nor of any of the things which refine a people. They
appeared to be rather an oak forest than a sensible and thoughtful
I travelled next through the province Kiliak. The natives of this
province are born with certain marks on their foreheads, which point out
how long they will live. At first I imagined these people to be happy,
as death could never overtake them unexpectedly, nor tear them away in
the midst of their sins. But as each one knows on what day he shall
die, it is usual to postpone repentance till the last hour. They only
are really pious who begin to sing their death song.
I saw several move about the streets with drooping heads and miserable
looks--the signs upon their foreheads proclaimed their speedy
They counted their remaining hours and minutes upon their fingers, and
regarded with horror the rapidity of time.
The Creator's wisdom and goodness to us in this respect became obvious
to me in this land. I could no longer doubt that it is better for us to
be ignorant of the future.
From Kiliak I sailed over a black sound to the kingdom of Askarak; there
new wonders greeted me. While in Cabac, people are to be seen without
heads, here, on the contrary, individuals come into the world with seven
heads. These are great universal geniuses. In former times, they were
worshiped with almost divine veneration, and were made senators, chief
magistrates, &c. As they had as many plans and expedients as heads, they
executed with zeal and rapidity many different things, and while the
government was in their hands, there was nothing left unchanged.
But as they made several sets of ideas effective at once, it happened,
very naturally, that these ideas came in contact with each other. At
last, they mingled together so intricately, that the seven-headed
geniuses could not discriminate in from out. The affairs of government
became so disordered that centuries were required to restore them to the
simplicity from which these all-knowing magistrates had brought them.
A law had been established, before I went there, by which all
seven-headed people were excluded from important offices, and the
administration of government was given to simple and ordinary persons,
that is, persons with but one head.
The many-headed now occupy the same places as the headless of Cabac.
Beyond Askarak, and separated from it by extensive deserts, lays the
Duchy of Bostanki. The Bostankins resemble the Potuans in their external
form. Their internal construction is very singular. The heart is placed
in the right leg; so that it may be literally said of them, that their
hearts are in their breeches.
They are notorious for being the greatest cowards among all the
inhabitants of Nazar.
Angry, from faintness and fatigue, I came to a tavern near the city
gates. I could not abstain from growling at the landlord because he
could not provide what I called for. The poor fellow fell on his knees
before me, begged my pardon amid tears and groans, and held his right
leg towards me that I might feel how his heart beat.
At this I laughed, and almost forgot to be angry. I wiped the tears from
the poor sinner's eyes, and told him not to be afraid. He rose up,
kissed my hand, and went out to prepare my food. Not long after, I heard
lamentable cries and howls in the kitchen. I hastened thither, and to my
great astonishment, saw the humble and trembling Monsieur poltroon
engaged, very valiantly, in beating his wife and servant girls. When he
perceived me he took to flight. I turned to the weeping wife and girls
and demanded what could have excited such terrible anger in my lamb-like
host. They stood for some time, silently, with their eyes fixed on the
ground. At length, the wife replied in the following words: "You do not
seem, dear stranger! to have much knowledge of human nature. The
citizens of this place, who dare not look at an armed enemy, and, at the
least noise, creep like mice into holes, hector in the kitchens, and
tyrannize over us feeble women."
Thoroughly disgusted by the mean and cowardly spirit of this people, I
hired a boat to go to Mikolak. On landing I missed my outer coat, which
I recollected to have put in the boat at starting. After quarrelling a
long time with the boatman, who denied all knowledge of it, I went to a
magistrate, and related the whole matter to him. I asserted that I had
at least a right to demand my own property, if I could not sue at law
one with whom I had entrusted my goods.
The boatman still denied the theft, and required that I should be
punished for wrongly accusing him. In this doubtful case, the court
demanded witnesses. This demand I could not answer, but proposed that my
opponent should take oath on his innocence.
At this proposal the judge smiled and said: "In this land, my friend,
there is no weight in religious confirmation. The laws are our gods.
Proof must, therefore, be given in a formal manner, by witnesses or
written documents. Whoever cannot do this not only lose their case, but
are subject to punishment for malicious accusation. Prove your case by
witnesses, and you will get your own again." I lost my case, but from
regard to the hospitality due to strangers, was not punished.
I had far more reason to pity this people than to regret my own loss.
How weak is that society which relies for its safety on bare human laws.
It is like a city built on a volcanic mountain! Little firmness has that
political structure which rests not on the foundation of religion.
Leaving this atheistic land, I crossed a very high mountain to Bragmat,
which lays in a dale at the foot of the mountain. The people of this
city are juniper trees. The first that I met rushed towards me, and
pressing with the weight of his body, felled me to the ground. When I
demanded the reason of this rough salutation, he begged my pardon in the
most polite and elegant expressions. A few minutes after, another
struck me in the side with a hedge-pole, and likewise excused his
carelessness in a pretty speech. I thought they must be blind, and gave
to all I passed a very wide berth.
I was afterwards informed that some among them were possessed of a very
sharp sight, so that they can behold objects far beyond the view of
others, but they could not see what was directly before them. These
sharp-sighted people are called Makkati, and are, most of them, adepts
in astronomy and transcendental philosophy.
I passed through several other provinces, in which I found nothing
worthy to be recorded in this history; and returned to Potu after an
absence of two months.
I entered the city of Potu on the tenth day of the Ash month. The first
thing I did was to deliver my journal to the king, who ordered it to be
It must be observed that the art of printing, which both the Europeans
and Chinese claim to have invented, has been well known in Nazar for
ages. The Potuans were so much pleased with my book that they were never
tired of reading it. Little trees carried it about the streets and
cried: "Court-footman Skabba's Travels around the Globe."
Puffed up by my success, I now strove for higher things, and awaited,
somewhat impatiently, an appointment to a great and respectable office.
My expectations not being answered, I gave in a new petition, in which I
eulogized my work and claimed a suitable reward for my uncommon merit.
The mild and beneficent king was moved by my prayers, and promised to
keep me in gracious remembrance.
He kept his promise, but not to my liking, for his grace consisted only
in making an addition to my stipend.
I had pointed my nose another way, but not daring to press the king with
more petitions, I made my complaint to the great chancellor. This very
sensible personage listened to me with his usual urbanity, and promised
to serve me. At the same time he advised me to abandon my unreasonable
desires, and take a more exact view of my weak judgment and general
insignificance. "Nature," he said, "has been a step-mother to you; you
want, altogether, the talents which clear the road to important offices.
You must creep before you walk; and it is foolish to think of flying
without wings." He acknowledged my merits: "But," he continued, "it is
not such merits as yours that will give you admittance to State affairs.
If all merit should give this right, then every painter and sculptor,
this for his skill in carving, that for his knowledge of colors, might
demand a seat at the council board. Merit ought to be rewarded, but the
reward should be adapted to the object, that the State may not suffer."
This speech struck me, and had the effect to keep me very quiet for some
time. But I could not endure the thought of growing grey in my base
employment. I determined on the desperate attempt, which I had formerly
considered, to improve the constitution, and thus, by a bold stroke, to
advance my own and the country's welfare.
Shortly before my journey I had strictly examined the internal condition
of the kingdom, to discover the least failing in its machinery, and the
best means to remedy it.
In the province Kokleku I had learnt that the government waggles in
which women have a part. For being by nature vain, they strive to extend
their power in every conceivable direction, and stop not till they have
procured for themselves perfect and unlimited dominion.
I concluded, therefore, to propose the exclusion of the fair sex from
all public offices, and trusted to get a sufficiency of voices on my
side by placing the case in its best light. It seemed an easy matter, to
me, to convince the male sex of the dangers to which they were exposed,
if they did not, in time, weaken this female power.
I executed this plan with all the art I was possessed of, supporting it
with the most cogent reasons, and sent it to the king.
He, who had given me many proofs of his favor, was astonished at this
miserable and impertinent project, as he graciously called it, and said,
that it would fall out to my destruction.
But relying partly on my reasonings and partly on the support of the
whole male population, I held obstinately to my plan. According to law,
I was led to the market-place with a rope about my neck, to await the
decision of the Council. When the counsellors had given their votes,
the sentence was sent to be subscribed by the king, which being done, it
was publicly read by a herald, as follows:
"On mature consideration we adjudge, that the proposal made by Sr:
Skabba, first court-footman to his majesty, to exclude the second sex
from public offices, cannot be accepted, without affecting the peace and
order of the kingdom: since the women, who form the half of our
population, would naturally be excited by this innovation, and thereby
become hostile and troublesome to the government. Furthermore, we hold
it to be unjust to deny, to trees of excellent qualities, admission to
offices of which they have hitherto shown themselves to be worthy and
especially it is incredible, that nature, which does nothing
inconsiderately, should have idly endued them with superior and varied
gifts. We believe the welfare of the kingdom requires that a regard
should be had to fitness rather than to names, in the disposal of
offices. As the land is not seldom in need of capable subjects, we
pronounce a statute which should declare an entire half of the
inhabitants, merely from birth, unworthy of and useless in affairs, to
"After grave deliberation we declare this to be justice: let the
aforesaid Skabba, for his no less despicable than bold proposal, suffer
the usual punishment in such cases."
The good king took my misfortune to heart, but did not seek to change
the resolution of the Council. As a matter of form he signed the warrant
for my execution. Yet with his characteristic mildness, and in
consideration of my having been born and educated in a strange world,
where a quick and reckless head is thought to be a blessing, he commuted
my punishment to imprisonment till the beginning of the Birch month,
when, with other animals, I should be banished to the firmament. When
this sentence was published, I was sent to prison.
THE VOYAGE TO THE FIRMAMENT.
Twice a year, some very large birds, called Kupakki or post birds, are
wont to show themselves on the planet Nazar.
They come and go at certain regular periods, which has given rise to
various opinions. Some think, that insects, of which great multitudes
appear at the same periods, and which the birds are very fond of eating,
entice them down to the planet. This is my own notion. The circumstance,
that when these insects disappear, the birds return to the firmament,
places the opinion almost beyond all doubt. It is the same instinct,
which leads certain species of birds on our earth to migrate at regular
Others believe, that these birds are trained like hawks and other birds
of prey, to fetch booty from other lands. This conjecture is grounded
upon the great care with which they lay down their burdens, when their
flight is finished. This supposition is somewhat strengthened by the
fact, that they become tame and gentle just before they begin their
flight, suffering themselves to be thrown into nets, under which they
lie immovable. Meanwhile they are fed with insects till the regular
period arrives. Then a long box, just large enough to hold a tree or
man, is fastened to a rope, which is again tied to the legs of the bird.
On the banishment day, food is withheld from them, the nets are raised,
and the kupakkis wing their way to the firmament.
Two citizens of Potu had been doomed to banishment with myself. One was
a metaphysician, who had offended the law by making some sage remarks
upon the nature of spirits; the other was a fanatic, who, by starting
doubts concerning the holiness of religion and the uniting force of the
civil law, was suspected to have designed the overthrow of both. This
latter would not regulate himself by the public ordinances, because, he
said, all civil obedience was inconsistent with his conscience. Thus
three of us, namely, a project-maker, a metaphysician, and a fanatic,
were, on the first day of the Birch month, shut up in boxes.
I never knew what became of my fellow-sufferers. As for myself, I was
enclosed, with food sufficient for a few days. Shortly after, my
kupakki, finding nothing to eat, started off with amazing speed.
It is generally believed, under ground, that the distance between the
planet Nazar and the firmament is about four hundred miles. I had no
means of determining how long my passage was, but conjectured it to be
about twenty-four hours.
I heard nothing, during this time, but the heavy and monotonous flapping
of the kupakki's wings. At last, there sounded in my ears a confounding
noise, which announced that we could not be far from land.
I now observed that the bird had really been trained, for he set the
box, with so much care on the ground, that I did not feel the slightest
jar. The box was immediately opened, and I rose up in the midst of a
great multitude of monkeys, who, to my astonishment, conversed together
in an intelligent language rather than chattered, and walked to and fro,
in measured and dignified paces. They were dressed in cloths of varied
colors. A number of them advanced towards me with much politeness, and
handed me from the box.
They seemed to be surprised at my figure, particularly when they
discovered I had no tail. Their amazement was not at all lessened by the
fact, that I resembled them (laying aside the tail) more nearly than did
any stranger they had hitherto seen.
At the time of my arrival the water was very high, owing to the nearness
of Nazar. This planet has the same effect upon the tides of the
firmament, as our moon has upon those of the earth.
I was led to a very large building, ornamented in the richest style. The
presence of a guard at the door convinced me that it was the residence
of no common monkey. It was, as I afterwards learnt, the residence of
the mayor of the monkeys.
A number of teachers were selected to instruct me in their language.
In three months I was enabled to speak with considerable readiness. Then
I expected to procure for myself the admiration of all, for my prompt
ingenuity and superior memory. But my teachers declared me to be
sluggish and dull of apprehension, and in their impatience often
threatened to abandon their charge. As, on the planet Nazar, I had been
ironically named Skabba, or the untimely, for my quick perceptions, so
here I was called Kakidoran, which signifies, idle and stupid. Those
only are respected here, who can comprehend and express any thing
instantaneously. I amused myself during the course of my studies by
walking about the city, in which I met on all sides notable signs of
splendor and luxury.
When I had finished my education, that is, when I could speak fluently,
I was carried to the capital city Martinia, from which the whole country
takes its name. The object of the mayor evidently was, to insinuate
himself into the favor of a certain counsellor, by presenting to him a
strange and unprecedented animal.
The government of Martinia is aristocratical. The state is administered
by a great council, selected from the body of the old nobility.
Before proceeding to the house of the lord, to whom I was to be offered,
the mayor led me to a hotel, where we could make ourselves presentable
to his excellency. Several servants, called maskatti, or dressers,
joined us for this purpose. One took the mayor's sword to burnish it;
another tied different colored bands to his tail. I will here remark,
that nothing lays nearer to a monkey's heart than the adornment of his
When my conductor was polished, dressed and adorned, we departed for the
president's palace, followed by three servants.
On coming to the entrance, the mayor loosed his shoes, that he might not
soil the marble floor. After waiting for a long time, with not a little
impatience, we were suffered to enter the reception hall. Here the
president sat in a golden chair.
As soon as he saw us, the president burst out in a terrific laugh. I
concluded either that he was seized by delirium, or that silly and
insane laughter was a peculiarity of great people in Martinia. In short,
I took his lordship to be a fool.
I afterwards expressed this opinion to the mayor; but he assured me that
the president was a monkey of remarkable natural powers; that his mind
was so comprehensive, that he not only determined matters of the highest
importance at table, with his glass in hand, but even wrote or dictated
a new statute between the courses.
His excellency tattled to me half an hour, his tongue wagging, the
while, with an agility immeasurably superior to that of our European
Then turning to my companion, he said, he would take me among his
subordinate attendants, since he perceived, from my sluggish
disposition, that I must have been born in the land of stupidity, where
Long-eared mortals, in perpetual fogs,
Oft lose their way to mire in horrid bogs:--
and consequently that I was unfit for any office of trust and
respectability. "I have, indeed," urged the mayor, "observed a natural
obtuseness in this man; nevertheless, when he is allowed time to think,
he judges by no means badly."
"Of what use is that," replied the president; "here we need nimble
officers, for the immense diversity of our affairs does not give us time
The president, having spoken thus, very gravely, and carefully examined
my body, and directed me to lift a heavy weight from the floor. Seeing
that I did this with ease, he remarked: "Nature, although she has
stinted you in the faculties of the soul, has compensated, in some
measure, by granting to you a degree of bodily strength."
I now received orders to go out and wait in the court. Soon after the
mayor followed, and as he passed, told me that his excellency had
determined to include me in his train.
I concluded from his lordship's undervaluing opinion of me, that my
situation could not be very elevated; still, I was curious to know my
fate, and therefore asked the mayor if he knew what I was to be
entrusted with. The mayor answered: "His excellency, with special grace,
has appointed you for his chief porteur, with a yearly pay of
twenty-five stercolatus." (A stercolatu is about one dollar of our
money.) "Furthermore, he will not require your services for any but
himself and her grace, his lady." This answer was like a thunder-stroke
to me; but I was sensible that it was useless to object.
I was carried to a chamber, where a supper of dried fruits was laid;
after eating a little, my bed was pointed out to me.
I threw myself upon the bed, but my mind was so agitated, that I could
not for a time close my eyes in sleep. The pride and contempt with which
the monkeys regarded me, provoked me almost to rage. A more than Spartan
patience was needed to listen with indifference to their sneers. At last
I slumbered. How long I know not, for in the firmament there is no
division of night and day. It is never dark, except at a certain period,
when the planet Nazar comes between the firmament and the subterranean
On awakening, I found at my side a mean looking monkey, who asserted
that he was my colleague: He had brought with him a false tail, which he
fixed upon me, and then tied to it some ribbons of various colors. He
told me that in half an hour the president would be ready to set out for
the Academy, and that I must prepare myself to begin my duties. The
ceremony of promoting a doctor was to take place.
We bore the president to the Academy in a golden sedan, and were
suffered to remain in the hall during the performance.
At the entrance of the president, all the doctors and masters of art
rose and turned their tails towards him. To a dweller on the earth, such
salutations would probably have appeared unseemly and ridiculous, as
such a movement with us is expressive of indifference or dislike.
But every land has its own customs. I have seen so many strange
ceremonies and varied usages, that I have come to observe, rather than
laugh at them.
The act of promotion, on this occasion, was performed with the following
ceremonies. The candidate was placed in the middle of the hall. Then
three officers, each with a pail of cold water, approached him with
measured steps. Each in turn dashed his bucket of water in the
candidate's face. The sufferer is obliged to receive this bath without
distorting his countenance, on pain of forfeiting his degree. Odorous
oils were then sprinkled over him, and finally a powerful vomit was
given to him. When this last dose had produced its usual effect upon the
candidate, he was pronounced to be a lawfully graduated doctor.
I turned to a learned doctor, who stood near me, and humbly asked him
the meaning of all I had seen.
First expressing his pity for my ignorance, the sneering pedant
condescended to inform me, that the ceremony of the water was
significant of the preparation for a new course of life and duty; the
ointment, of elevation above the mass; and the vomit, of the
extermination of prejudice and error.
I fancied, but I did not say so, that my dignified instructor in the
mysteries needed a fresh vomit.
The Martinianic religion is not at all practical. There are two hundred
and thirty speculations concerning the form and being of God, and three
hundred and ninety-six of the nature and qualities of the soul. There
are many churches and theological seminaries, but in neither is taught
the way to live and die well. The people are all critics, who go to be
amused by the art and delicacy of the holy teachers. The more obscure
and involved the propositions of their preachers, the more are they
praised. The Martinians are indifferent to every thing they can easily
Martinia is the paradise of project-makers. The more inconsistent and
useless a scheme, the surer is it of general approbation.
When I once spoke with an enthusiastic monkey, of the earth and its
inhabitants, he fell upon the notion, to bore through to the surface,
and make a convenient and easy way of communication.
He prepared a long and eloquently worded plan on this subject, which
pleased and excited every body.
A company was formed, and named the "Subterranean Boring Company" its
originator, Hiho Pop-coq, was made its president. The stock was seized
on with avidity, and the project was not abandoned until a multitude of
families had been ruined, and the public affairs brought into the
greatest disorder; and even then the scheme was dropped, less from its
supposed impracticability, than from the length of time required to
The author of it was not only left unpunished, but was overwhelmed with
the general applause, for the originality and boldness of his attempt.
The Martinians are used to console themselves on such occasions, by
repeating the following couplet:
"The project ended in defeat;
The notion was, however, neat."
When I had thoroughly studied the character of this people, I determined
to take advantage of their weaknesses, and by some outrageous proposal,
to gain their respect, and thereby better my condition.
I revealed my intention to a shrewd old monkey, who encouraged me in
Who would succeed in Martinianic land,
Must quit the useful, to propose the grand;
Hazard those deeds, that to the gallows pave,
Thy fortune's made! Here's honor for the knave.
After due deliberation, my choice became fixed upon that ornament for
the head, called wigs by us.
I had previously noticed that the land contained a multitude of goats;
with the hair of these creatures I proposed to manufacture my wigs.
My step-father had been engaged in the trade, and as I had, with the
inquisitiveness of youth, observed the process, I could bungle at it.
I made a goat's-hair wig for myself, and adorned with it, presented
myself to the president.
This dignitary was astonished at the new and uncommon decoration. He
seized it from my head, and placing it on his own, hastened in a very
undignified manner to the mirror.
So enraptured was he at the sight of the pompous protuberance, that he
shrieked out: "Divine art, how like a God am I!"--he sent immediately
for her Grace to partake in his joy.
She was not less pleased than her lord. She embraced him, kissed him,
and assured him that she had never seen him more handsome.
The president addressed himself to me with much less haughtiness than
usual. "O Kakidoran!" he exclaimed, "if this discovery of yours pleases
the Council as well as it does me, your fortune is made. You may hope
for the most honorable reward the State can give."
I gracefully thanked his Excellency, and immediately wrote a petition,
which I requested him to lay before the Council.
His Excellency took the petition together with the wig, and departed. I
understood that all the cases which were to come before the Council on
this day, had been laid aside, so inquisitive were all to hear and
examine my project. The work was accepted, and an appropriate reward was
adjudged to me. I was called up to the council-chamber on my entrance,
an old monkey stood up, and, after thanking me in the name of the whole
republic, proclaimed that my work should be rewarded as its merits
deserved. He then demanded, what length of time I should need to
fabricate another such head ornament? I replied, that it was reward
enough for me, that my curious workmanship had gained the approbation of
the great men who composed the Council; for the rest, I bound myself to
make another wig in two days, and also to manufacture wigs enough for
the whole city in a month, provided I might count upon the assistance of
a number of monkeys, accustomed to work. This proposal, however, made
the president hot about the ears, and he exclaimed with much eagerness:
"It is not fit, my dear Kakidoran, that this ornament should be common
to the whole town, for being worn by all without distinction, it will
become ordinary and vulgar. The nobility must necessarily be
distinguished from the common people."
All the members of the Council concurred in his opinion, and the city
marshal was charged to take heed that none might wear wigs, except the
nobility. This order having been promulgated, the citizens thronged
about the council-chamber to obtain titles and charters, which some
bought with their money and others procured through the influence of
their friends; so that in a short time full half the city were made
nobles. But when petition after petition poured in from the provinces,
that the like favor should be extended to them, the Council, being
possessed with a righteous fear of riot and civil war, finally
determined to allow every one, without distinction of rank, to wear a
wig. I thus had the pleasure to see the whole Martinianic nation wigged
before I left that country. And, truly, it can scarcely be imagined what
a funny and ridiculous appearance the wigged monkeys presented! The
whole nation made so much of my project and its accomplishment, that a
new era was established; and from this time the wig-age commenced in the
In the meantime, I was loaded with praises and panegyrics, wrapped in a
purple cloak, and returned from the court-house in the president's own
sedan, the same _porteur_, who had formerly been my companion, serving
me now as a horse. From that day I dined continually at the table of his
With this glittering preamble to my fortunes, I commenced in earnest the
work I had promised, and soon finished wigs enough for the whole
Council; and after sweating for a month--a patent of nobility was
brought to me, couched in the following words:
"In consideration of the most excellent and very useful
discovery, through which Kakidoran, born in Europe, has made
himself worthy of the gratitude of the whole Martinianic
nation, we have resolved to advance him to the rank of
nobility, so that he, and all his descendants shall be
regarded as true noblemen, and enjoy all the prerogatives
and rights, of which the nobility of Martinia are in
possession. Furthermore, we have determined to dignify him
with a new name; he shall therefore from this day, be no
longer called Kakidoran, but Kikidorian. Moreover, since his
new dignity requires a richer style of living, we grant him
a yearly pension of two hundred patarer. Given in the
council-chamber of Martinia, the fourth day of the month
Merian, under the great seal of the Council."
Thus I suddenly became changed from a simple porteur to a respectable
nobleman, and lived for a long while in great splendor and honor. When
it was known that I was high in the favor of the president, everybody
sought my good will and protection. It is the fashion among the poets of
Martinia to panegyrize the tails of eminent monkeys, as it is with us to
eulogize the beauty of women. Several poets commended the beauty of my
tail, although I had none. To say everything on this subject in a few
words--their fawning servility towards me was so extreme, that a certain
man of high rank and station, did not hesitate, nor did he feel himself
shamed, to promise me that his wife should make herself agreeable to me
in every possible way, provided that I would recompense him by
recommending him to the president.
When I had lived in this land for the space of two years, at first a
_porteur_ and latterly a nobleman, an incident, entirely unexpected,
occurred, which was nearly fatal to me. I had, up to this period, been
in special favor with his Excellency; and her Grace, the president's
lady, had evinced so much kindness to me, that I was regarded the first
among all her favorites. She was distinguished for her virtue; but, when
in the lapse of time, I perceived one after another ambiguity in her
expressions, I began to feel a kind of mistrust, especially when I
Sometimes she'd smile with wanton grace,
Then unto sudden tears give place,
While gazing, silent, on my face
With mild devotion.
Her's all the art of tenderness,
That pleases while it wounds no less:
Her breasts, half-covered, now confess
Their strange emotion.
Then sighs that can no reason find,
Or used to make my reason blind:--
Her hands upon her breast entwined--
Ah, female charms!
Her face would lose its rosy hue
For lily's, washed in morning dew;
Aurora's purple blazed anew,
In love's alarms.
My suspicions finally became certainties, when a chambermaid brought to
me, one day, the following note:
"The feeling which I owe to my rank and high descent, and
the modesty natural to my sex, have until now hindered the
sparks of love which have long secretly burned in my bosom,
from breaking forth in open flame: but I am weary of the
combat, and my heart can no longer resist its bewitching
enemy. Have pity for a female, from whom only the utmost
degree of burning love could have been able to extort a
I cannot describe how singularly I felt at this entirely unexpected
declaration of love: but as I held it far better to expose myself to
the revenge of a furious female, than to sin against the order of
nature, by a shameful intimacy with a creature that did not belong to my
race, I immediately wrote an answer in the following words:
"The constant favor his Excellency, your husband, has shown
to me; the undeserved benefits he has bestowed upon me; the
moral impossibility of fulfilling your gracious desires; and
many other reasons, that I will not name, move me to submit
to the anger of my gracious lady, rather than consent to an
action that would stigmatize me as the most ungrateful and
the lowest among all two-legged creatures. Besides, what is
desired of me, would be more bitter to satisfy than death
itself. This action, if I yielded to it, would effect the
ruin and dishonor of one of the most respected families in
the State, and my willingness would injure, before all
others, that person who has desired it. With the most solemn
and sincere assurances of gratitude I must here declare,
gracious lady, that under no circumstances can I fulfil your
wishes in this respect, although to all other commands I
promise a blind obedience.
Underneath I wrote the following admonition:
"Think of this heavy sin;
Fly ere it be too late:
Shall vice, the pander, newly in,
Bow virtue to the gate?
Let Cupid not ensnare you--
His cunning wiles beware you,
The sweets of sin soon vanish--
Its pains, ah! who can banish."
This letter I sent to the lady, and it had the effect that I expected;
her love was changed to the bitterest hatred:--
In vain her glowing tongue would vie,
To tell her frightful agony.
Despairing shame her accents clip;--
They freeze upon her snowy lip.
No tears did flow; _such_ pain oft dries
The blessed current of the eyes:
Fell vengeance from her black orbs glanced,
While like a fury, she advanced.
Nevertheless, she restrained her fury, until she recovered the
love-letter she had written to me. As soon as she had secured it, she
hired some persons to testify by oath, that, in the absence of his
Excellency, I had attempted to violate her. This fable was represented
with so much art and speciousness, that the president did not doubt its
truth, and I was ordered to be put in prison. In this, my despairing
condition, I saw no other means of deliverance than to confess the
crime, with which I had been charged, and supplicate the president for
mercy: which being done, my life was conceded, but I was doomed to
perpetual imprisonment. My charter of nobility was immediately taken
from me, and I was sent to the galleys as a slave. My destination was to
one of the ships belonging to the republic, which then lay ready to sail
for _Mezendares_, or the Land-of-wonders. Thence were brought the wares
that Martinia cannot produce. This ship, on board of which my evil
fortune had now cast me, was propelled both by sails and oars; at each
oar two slaves were chained: consequently I was attached to another
unfortunate. I was consoled, however, by the prospect of a voyage,
during which I hoped to find new food and nourishment for my insatiable
inquisitiveness, although I did not believe all that the seamen told of
the curious things I should see. Several interpreters accompanied us;
these being made use of by the Mezendaric merchants in the course of
their commercial negotiations.
THE VOYAGE TO THE LAND-OF-WONDERS.
Before I proceed to the description of this sea-voyage, I must first
caution all severe and unmerciful critics not to frown too much at the
narration of things, which seem to war against nature, and even surpass
the faculties of faith in the most credulous man. I relate incredible
but true things, that I have seen with my own eyes. Raw and ignorant
ninnies who have never started a foot from their homes, regard every
thing as fable, whose equal they have never heard of or seen; or, with
which they have not been familiar from childhood. Learned people, on
the contrary, especially those who have a deep knowledge of natural
history, and whose experience has proved to them how fruitful nature is
in changes, will pass a more reasonable sentence upon the uncommon
In former days a people were found in Scythia, called Arimasps, who had
but one eye, which was placed in the middle of the forehead: another
people, under the same climate, had their foot-soles turned out
backwards, and in Albany were people born with gray hairs. The ancient
Sanromates ate only on every third day and fasted the other two; in
Africa were certain families who could bewitch others by their talk; and
it is a well known fact, that there were certain persons in Illyria,
with two eye-balls to each eye, who killed people by merely looking at
them: this, however, they could do, only when they were angry; then
their fierce and scintillating stare was fatal to whomever was rash or
unfortunate enough to meet it: on the mountains of Hindostan were to be
found whole nations with dog's heads, who barked; and others who had
eyes in their backs. Who would believe this and even more, if Pliny,
one of the most earnest writers, had not solemnly assured us, that he
had neither heard nor read the least hereof, but had seen it all with
his own eyes? Yes, who would have imagined that this earth was hollow;
that within its circumference were both a sun and moon, if my own
experience had not discovered the secret? Who would have thought it
possible, that there was a globe, inhabited by walking, sensible trees,
if the same experience had not placed it beyond all doubt? Nevertheless,
I will not pick a quarrel with any one, on account of his incredulity in
this matter, because I must confess, that I myself, before I made this
voyage, mistrusted whether these tales might not have arisen from the
exaggerated representations of seamen, or that they were the result of
that well-known qualification of this class of men, familiarly styled
the "spinning a yarn."
In the beginning of the month Radir, we went on board our ship, weighed
The wind in swelling sails embraced the bending masts,
And, like an arrow in the air, with lightning speed,
The keel shrieked through the foaming billows.
The wind was fair for some days, during which we poor rowers had a
comfortable time, for the oars were not needed; but on the fourth day it
The sails did fall: in haste the seats were fixed;
With plashing stroke, the oars smote heaven in the waters.
For a long time we met with nothing; but as soon as we lost sight of
land, strange figures raised themselves from the quaking gulph. They
were mermaids, who, when the weather becomes calm and the billows rest
themselves, rise to the surface and swim towards any passing ship, to
ask for alms. Their language was so similar to the Martinianic, that
some of our sailors could speak with them without an interpreter. One of
these singular creatures demanded of me a piece of meat; when I gave it
to her, she looked at me steadily for a time, and said: you will soon
become a hero, and rule over mighty nations! I laughed at this
divination, for I considered it empty flattery, although the sailors
swore to it, that the mermaids' prediction seldom failed. At the end of
eight days we came in sight of land; which the seamen called
Picardania. As we entered the harbor, a magpie came flying towards us,
which, they said, was the custom-house inspector-general. When this
dignitary had flown thrice around the ship, he returned to the shore and
came back with three other magpies: these seated themselves on the prow
of the ship. I came very near bursting with laughter, when I saw one of
our interpreters approach these magpies, with many compliments, and
heard him hold a long conversation with them. They had come for the
purpose of examining our freight and detecting any forbidden articles
that we might have concealed; when all was found correct, we were
suffered to unload. As soon as this was done, a number of magpies flew
to the ship, who proved to be merchants. The captain then went ashore,
accompanied by myself and two monkeys, namely, our supercargo and an
interpreter; after clearing the ship and disposing of the cargo, we
returned, and shortly set sail.
In three days we reached Music-land. After casting anchor, we went on
shore, preceded by one of the interpreters, who carried a bass-viol in
his hand. As we found the whole country about us empty and desolate,
discovering no where any trace of living creatures, the captain ordered
a trumpet to be sounded, to inform the inhabitants of our arrival.
Before the echoes of the blast from the trumpet had subsided, (and they
seemed to penetrate farther and reverberate longer than usual from the
perfect stillness of this apparently void region,) about thirty musical
instruments came hopping towards us. These were bass-viols. On the very
long neck of each was placed a little head; the body was also small, and
covered by a smooth bark, which, however, did not close entirely around
the frame, but was open in front and disposed loosely about them. Over
the navel, nature had built a bridge, above which four strings were
drawn. The whole machine rested on a single leg, so that their motion
was a spring rather than a walk. Their activity was very great, and they
jumped with much agility over the fields. In short, we should have taken
them for musical instruments, as their general appearance purported, if
they had not had each two arms and hands. In the one hand was a bow, the
other was used upon the frets. When our interpreter would converse with
them, he put his viol in its position, and commenced playing an air.
They immediately answered him by touching their strings, and thus
alternating with each other, a regular musical conversation was carried
on. At first they played only Adagio, with much harmony; then they
passed over to discordant tunes; and finally concluded with a very
pleasant and lively Presto. As soon as our people heard this, they
leaped and sung for joy, saying, that the bargain for the wares was now
fixed. Afterwards I learnt that the Adagio, they first played, was
merely an opening or preface to the conversation, and consisted only of
compliments; that the discordant tones which followed, were bickerings
and disputes about prices; and, finally, that the sweet sounding Presto
indicated that an agreement had been made. At the conclusion of these
negotiations, the wares stipulated for were landed. The most important
of these is Kolofonium, with which the inhabitants rub their bows or
organs of speech.
Late in the month of Cusan, we set sail from Music-land, and after some
days sailing hove in sight of a new land, which, on account of the foul
smell that reached our noses at a great distance, our seamen supposed to
The inhabitants of this land are not very unlike the human race in their
general appearance; the sole difference being, that these people have no
mouth: they speak from the face which turns towards the south when the
nose points to the north. The first of them who came on board, was a
rich merchant. He saluted us after the custom of his nation, by turning
his back towards us, and immediately began to bargain with us for our
wares. I kept myself considerably remote during the negotiation, as
neither the sound nor the smell of his speech pleased me. To my great
horror our barber was taken sick at this time, so that I was obliged to
summon a Pyglossian perfume. As the barbers here are quite as talkative
as among us, this one, while shaving me, filled the cabin with so
disagreeable a smell, that, on his departure, we were obliged to smoke
with all the incense we had on board.
We sailed hence to Iceland. This land consisted of desolate rocks,
covered by eternal snows. The inhabitants who are all of ice, live here
and there in the clefts of the rocks on the tops of the mountains, where
the sun is never seen, enveloped by almost perpetual darkness and frost.
The only light they have comes from the shining rime.
These lands, of which I here have given a view, are all subject to the
great emperor of Mezendora proper, and are therefore called by seafaring
people the Mezendoric islands. This great and wonderful country, namely,
Mezendora, is the goal of all extended voyages. Eight days sail from
Iceland brought us to the imperial residence. There we found all that
realized, which our poets have fancied of the societies of animals,
trees and plants; Mezendora being, so to speak, the common father-land
of all sensible animals and plants. In this empire each animal and every
tree can obtain citizenship, merely by submitting to the government and
laws. One would suppose, that, on account of the mixture of so many
different creatures, great confusion would prevail among them: but this
is far from the case. On the contrary, this very difference produces the
most happy effects; which must be attributed to their wise laws and
institutions, decreeing to each subject that office and employment to
which his nature and special faculties are best fitted. Thus, the lion,
in consideration of his natural magnanimity, is always chosen regent.
The elephant, on account of his keen judgment, is called to sit in the
State-council. Courtiers are made of chameleons, because they are
inconstant and know how to temporize. The army consists of bears, tigers
and other valorous animals; in the marine service, on the contrary, are
oxen and bulls; seamen being generally hardy and brave people; but
severe, inflexible, and not particularly delicate in their living, which
corresponds very well with their element. There is a seminary for this
class, where calves or sea-cadets are educated for sea-officers. Trees,
for their natural discretion and gravity, are usually appointed judges:
counsellors are geese; and the lawyers of the courts in ordinary are
magpies. Foxes are generally selected as ambassadors, consuls,
commercial-agents, and secretaries-of-legation. The ravens are chosen
for dealing-masters and executors on the effects of those deceased. The
buck-goats are philosophers, and especially grammarians, partly for the
sake of their horns, which they use on the slightest occasion, to gore
their opponents, and partly in consideration of their reverend beards,
which so notably distinguish them from all other creatures. The staid
yet energetic horse has the suffrage for the mayoralty and other civil
dignitaries. Estate owners and peasants are serpents, moles, rats and
mice. The ass, on account of his braying voice, is always the leader of
the church-choir. Treasurers, cashiers and inspectors are commonly
wolves; their clerks, being hawks. The (roosters) cocks are appointed
for watchmen, and the dogs house-porters.
The first who came on board of us, was a lean wolf or inspector, the
same as a custom-house-officer in Europe, followed by four hawks, his
clerks. These took from our wares what pleased them best, proving to us
thereby that they understood their business perfectly, and had all its
appropriate tricks at their fingers' ends. The captain took me ashore
with him. As soon as we had set foot on the quay, a cock came towards
us, demanded whence we were, the nature of our cargo, and announced us
to the inspector-general. This latter received us with much courtesy,
and invited us to dine with him. The mistress of the house, whom I had
heard to be one of the greatest beauties among the female wolves, was
not present at the table: the reason of this was, as we afterwards
learned, her husband's jealousy, who did not deem it advisable to allow
such a handsome wife to be seen by strangers. There were, however,
several ladies at table; among others, a certain commodore's wife, a
white cow with black spots: next to her sat a black cat, wife to the
master of hunt at court, newly arrived from the country. At my side was
placed a speckled sow, the lady of a renovation-inspector: that species
of officer-ship being generally taken from the hog-race. It must be
observed that the inhabitants of the Mezendoric empire, although they
are animals in figure, have hands and fingers on the fore feet.
After dinner the speckled sow entered into conversation with our
interpreter, during which she told him that she was overhead and ears in
love with me. He comforted her in the best manner he could, and promised
her his support and aid; then he turned himself towards me and
endeavored to persuade me to be easy; but when he observed that his
flattering and arguments were vain, he advised me to take to flight, as
he knew that this lady would move heaven and earth to satisfy her
desires. From this time I remained constantly on board; but the ship
itself was not a fortification sufficiently secure from the attacks of
this lady, who by messengers and love-letters strove to melt the ice
that surrounded my heart. Had I not, in the shipwreck I afterwards
suffered, lost my papers, I should now give some specimens of the
swine's poetry. I have forgotten it all, except the following lines, in
which she praises her being thus:
O thou! for whom my too fond soul most ardently doth thirst,
For whom my earliest passion, in retirement I have nursed:
Think not my figure homely, though it be endued in bristles,--
What beauty hath the leafless tree, through which the cold wind
How unadorned the noble horse, when of his beauteous mane he's shorn!
O! who would love a purring cat, all in her furlessness forlorn.
Ah, look around my darling pig! look on all living things,
From the huge unwieldy mammoth to the smallest bird that sings;--
Were these not shagged or feathered all, how loudly should we jeer;--
Who would warmly strive to please e'en man, were man without a beard?
After our truck was finished and a rich freight stowed away, we sailed
for home. We had scarcely got into the open sea when it suddenly became
calm, but soon after the wind breezed up. Having sailed awhile with a
good wind, we saw again some mermaids, who
Shot forth, and dived between the foaming waves,
and now and then emitted horrible shrieks. The sailors were much
terrified at this, for they knew by experience, that these mournful
sounds were presages of storm and wreck. They had scarcely taken in the
sails, before the whole heavens became veiled in black clouds:
Day sinks in night: all nature shudders.
Then, in an instant, loose from every point
The storm, in frightful gusts and devilish uproar
Breaks; the axis of the globe grates fearful,--
And thunders, clap on clap, resound the concave:
The waves, din-maddened, tower to mountains.
Wildly, gone her helm, the half-crushed craft
Tumbles ungovernable. Now despairing shrieks
Mingling with ocean's roar and crash of heaven,
Rise from the peopled deck: 'tis finished!
Every movable thing on deck floated off, for besides the ever-rolling
billows, an immense rain fell in terrific water-spouts, accompanied by
thunder and lightning. It seemed as though all the elements had
conspired for our destruction. During the rolling of the ship, our masts
were carried away, and then all hope of salvation was gone. Now and then
a huge billow rolled over us, and carried with it one or two men far
beyond the ship. The storm raged more and more; no one cared longer for
the vessel: without helm, without masts, without captain and mates, who
had been washed overboard, the wreck lay at the pleasure of the waves.
Having floated thus for three days, a bauble for the storm, we finally
descried a mountainous land in the distance. While rejoicing in the hope
of soon reaching this haven, our vessel struck so hard against a blind
rock, that she was instantly dashed in pieces. In the confusion and
terror of the moment I got hold of a plank, and, careless for the rest,
thought only upon saving myself, so that even now I know nothing of the
fate of my companions. I was quickly driven forth by the billows; and
this was fortunate for me, for otherwise I should have been crushed
among the timbers of the ship or torn in pieces by the jagged rocks upon
which we had been cast, or escaping this should eventually have perished
from hunger and fatigue. I was wafted by the waves within a cape, where
the sea was calmer, and where the roaring of the excited ocean sounded
less frightfully. When I saw that I was near the shore, I began to
scream vigorously, hoping to call the inhabitants to my assistance. I
soon heard a sound on the seashore, and saw some of the natives come
from a wood near by; they got into a yawl and sailed towards me; this
boat being curiously fashioned of ozier and oak-branches twisted
together, I concluded that this people must be very wild and
uncultivated. I was heartily glad, when I found them to be men, for they
were the first human beings I had met during the whole voyage. They are
very like the inhabitants of our globe, who live in hot climates; their
beards are black and their hair curled; the few among them who have
long and light hair, are considered monsters. The land which they
inhabit is very rocky: from the curved ridges of the rocks and the
connecting tops of the mountains, which cut the air in multiplied
sinuosities, every sound reverberates in echo upon echo from the dales
below. The people in the yawl approached the plank upon which I floated,
drew me from it, carried me to the shore, and gave me to eat and drink.
Although the food did not taste very good, yet as I had fasted for three
days, it refreshed me very much, and in a short time I regained my
THE AUTHOR'S ARRIVAL IN QUAMA.
Meanwhile a large multitude of people collected around me from all
parts. They requested me to speak; but as I did not understand their
language I could not answer them. They repeated often the word Dank,
Dank, and supposing them to be Germans, I addressed them in this
language, then in Danish, and finally in Latin; but they signified to
me, by shaking their heads, that these languages were unknown to them. I
tried at last to declare myself in the subterranean tongues, namely, in
Nazaric and Martinianic; but it was in vain.
After having addressed each other, thus incomprehensibly for a long
time, I was carried to a small hut, formed of wickers intricately
twisted. In this hut were neither chairs nor tables; these people seat
themselves on the ground to eat; instead of beds they spread straw on
the earthy floor, upon which they throw themselves indiscriminately at
night. Their food is milk, cheese, barley-bread and meat, which they
rudely broil on the coals; for they do not understand cooking. Thus I
lived with them, like a dog, until I learned so much of their language,
that I could speak with them and assist them a little in their
ignorance. The simplest rules of living that I prepared for them were
considered as divine commands. My fame soon spread abroad, and all the
villages around sent forth crowds to a teacher, who, they believed, had
been sent to them from heaven. I heard even, that some had commenced a
new chronology from the date of my arrival. All this pleased me only so
much the more, as formerly in Nazar I had been abused for my imprudence
and wavering judgment, and in Martinia despised and commiserated for my
ignorance. True, indeed, is the old proverb; that among the blind the
one-eyed rules. I had now come to a land, where with little
understanding, I could raise myself to the highest dignities. There were
here the best opportunities to employ my talents, since this fruitful
land produced in abundance whatever subserved for pleasure and luxury as
well as usefulness and comfort. The inhabitants were not indocile nor
were they wanting in conception; but since they had been blessed with no
light without themselves, they groped in the thickest darkness. When I
told them of my birth, my native land, of the shipwreck I had suffered,
and of other occurrences in my voyages, not one would credit me. They
thought rather that I was an inhabitant of the sun, and had come down to
enlighten them, wherefore they called me Pikil-Su, that is the sun's
ambassador. For their religion, they believed in and acknowledged a God,
but cared not at all to prove his existence. They thought it enough for
them that their forefathers had believed the same; and this blind
submission to time-honored formulę was their simple and sole theology.
Of the moral law, they were ignorant of all commandments save this: Do
not unto others that which you would not have others do unto you. They
had no laws; the will of the emperor was their only rule. Of chronology
they had but a slight conception; their years were determined by the
eclipses of the sun by Nazar's intervention. Were one asked his age, he
would answer: that he had attained so many eclipses. Their knowledge of
natural science too, was very unsatisfactory and unreasonable; they
believed the sun to be a plate of gold, and the planet Nazar, a cheese.
Their property consisted in hogs, which, after marking, they drove into
the woods: the wealth of each was determined by the number of his swine.
I applied myself, with all the fervor imaginable, to refine and
enlighten this rude, yet promising people, so that shortly I came to be
regarded among them as a saint; their trust in my wisdom was so great,
that they thought nothing impossible with me. Therefore, when overtaken
by misfortune, they would hasten to my hut and pray for my assistance.
Once I found a peasant on his knees before my door, weeping, and
bitterly complaining over the unfruitfulness of his trees, and
beseeching me to use my authority, that his trees should bear fruit to
him abundantly, as of old.
I had heard that this whole country was governed by a Regent, whose
residence, or palace, at that time, was about eight days' travel from
the town where I lived. I say at that time, because the court dwelt, not
in substantial, fixed houses, but in tents; and the residence was moved
at pleasure from one province to another. The ruler at that period was
an old man, named Casba, which signifies, the great emperor. In
consideration of its many large provinces, this country was indeed a
great empire; but, from the ignorance of the inhabitants, who made
little use of their many natural advantages, and also from the absence
of that unanimity among the provinces, which would have dignified and
strengthened their counsels, and subserved for their mutual protection,
they were exposed to the attacks and mockeries of their more vigorous
neighbors, and not unfrequently obliged to pay tribute to nations much
inferior to themselves.
The report of my name and power was spread in a short time even to the
remotest provinces. Nothing could be done without consulting me, as an
oracle, and when any undertaking miscarried, its failure was ascribed to
my indifference or indignation; wherefore, oblations were frequently
made to assuage my anger. Finally the rumor was carried to the ears of
the old emperor, that a great man had come into his dominions, in a
strange dress, who gave himself out as ambassador of the sun, and had
proved himself more than man, by bestowing to the Quamites (thus the
inhabitants were called, after the name of the land, Quama,) wise and
almost divine rules of life. He therefore sent ambassadors, with orders
to invite me to the imperial residence. These were thirty in number, all
clothed in tiger-skins, this dress being considered in Quama the
greatest of ornaments, since none were permitted to wear it, but those
who had distinguished themselves in war against the Tanaquites, a nation
of sensible tigers, and the mortal enemies of the Quamites.
I had built, in the town where I dwelt, a walled house, after the
European style. At the sight of it, the imperial ambassadors were
astonished, and exclaimed that it was a work beyond human powers; they
entered it, as a sanctuary, with devout reverence, and there proclaimed
to me the emperor's invitation in the following speech: "Since the great
emperor, our most gracious lord, reckons his genealogy through manifold
generations, from Spunko, the sun's son, the primary regent of Quama,
nothing could surprise him more agreeably than this embassy; wherefore
his majesty joyfully greets the ambassador of the sun, and humbly
invites him to the capital city of the empire." I answered by expressing
my most humble thanks for the emperor's condescension, and immediately
repaired, with the ambassadors, to the capital. These lords had been
fourteen days on their journey to me, but assisted by my genius, the
return occupied only four days.
I had observed, during my residence in this country, that there were
vast numbers of horses running wild in the woods, and hence rather
burthensome than useful to the inhabitants. I showed to the people how
beneficial these animals might be made to them, and taught them how to
tame these noble creatures. At my suggestion and by my direction, a
number of them were caught and broken in, and thus I was enabled to
mount the ambassadors, and materially shorten the period of our journey.
No idea can be formed of the wonder and astonishment with which the
Quamites witnessed our entry into the city; some were so frightened that
they ran far into the country. The emperor himself dared not, in his
fear, come out from his tent, nor would he stir, until one of the
ambassadors, dismounting his horse, went in and explained the whole
secret to him. Shortly I was, with a great retinue, led into the
imperial tent. The old emperor was seated on a carpet surrounded by his
courtiers. On my entrance, I acknowledged, in the most polite terms, the
exceeding grace his imperial majesty had shown me; thereupon the emperor
arose and asked me what the king of the sun, and father of his family
proposed to do. Conceiving it politic, and even necessary not to
undeceive the Quamites in the opinion they themselves first entertained,
I answered: that his majesty, the king of the sun, had sent me down to
this land to refine, by good laws and salutary rules of life, the
uncultivated manners of the Quamites, and teach them the arts, through
which they might not only resist and repel their valiant and energetic
neighbors, but even extend the boundaries of their own empire; and
added, that I had been ordered to remain with them forever. The emperor
listened to this speech with much apparent pleasure, ordered a tent to
be immediately raised for me near his own, gave me fifteen servants, and
treated me less as a subject than as an intimate friend.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FIFTH MONARCHY.
From this time all my exertions were directed to the accomplishment of a
radical reform throughout the country. I commenced by improving their
mode of warfare, in exercising the young men in riding, fencing and
shooting. My constant labor was rewarded so well that, in a short time,
I exhibited before the emperor six thousand horsemen.
At this period the Tanaquites were preparing for a new attack upon the
Quamites, on account of the refusal of this latter people to pay a
yearly tribute which had been several times demanded and as often
denied. I went, at the emperor's desire, with my cavalry and some
footmen to meet the invaders. To the infantry I gave javelins and
arrows, that they might fight their enemies at a distance; for the
Quamites had formerly used only short swords or poignards, and
consequently were obliged to meet in close combat their frightful foes,
the Tanaquites, who excelling them greatly in personal strength, had
great advantage over them. Hearing that the enemy were approaching the
boundary, as commander-in-chief, I repaired instantly towards them. On
meeting the invaders I caused the footmen to attack them with their
javelins; this put them into panic and flight, and determined the fate
of the day. The enemy suffered a terrible defeat and the Tanaquitic
leader, with twenty other noble tigers, were taken prisoners alive and
carried in triumph to Quama. It is not possible to describe the general
and tumultuous joy that filled the whole country for this glorious
victory; because in former wars the Quamites had generally been obliged
to lay down their arms. The emperor commanded the prisoners to be
immediately executed, according to old custom; but considering this a
horrible custom, I persuaded him to respite them, and put them in prison
for further deliberation.
I had observed that this land was very rich in saltpetre, and had
collected a considerable quantity for the purpose of making powder. This
intention I had kept secret, however, from all except the emperor, whose
permission I needed to establish manufactories for rifles and other
guns. With the aid of these I hoped in a short time to subdue all the
enemies of the empire. When I had finished some hundred rifles and
prepared balls suitable for them, I made a trial of my project to the
astonishment of all. A certain number of soldiers were selected to learn
this military art, and were exercised in the management of the guns.
When this body of soldiers had become accustomed to the use of these new
engines of war, and could employ them effectively, a review was held,
after which the emperor proclaimed me Jakal, that is, generalissimo over
the whole army. While all these matters were pending, I had entered into
an intimate friendship with the brave leader of the Tanaquites, the
imprisoned Tomopoloko, with whom I held frequent and interesting
conversations, with the object of learning the constitution, character,
and customs of his nation. I could not but observe, to my great
astonishment, that they were a witty, moral and enlightened people, and
that the sciences were earnestly and effectively cultivated by them. The
chief told me, that towards the east were a valorous people, against
whose attacks, the Tanaquites were obliged to keep themselves always
prepared. The inhabitants of that country, he added, were small, and in
reality much inferior in bodily strength to those of Tanaquis; but being
of superior acuteness and agility, and excellent bowmen, they had in
fact, often forced the Tanaquites to sue for peace.
I soon came to know, that this formidable nation consisted of cats; and
that they had distinguished themselves among all the nations under the
firmament, for their rational judgment and political acumen. It provoked
and pained me not a little, that skilfulness, the sciences, and polite
manners, should be universally among the animals of the subterranean
world, while only real human beings, namely, the Quamites were sunk to
the profoundest depths of uncultivated barbarism. I consoled myself,
however, in the hope that, through my endeavors, this shame would soon
cease, and the Quamites would recover that dominion, which belonged to
them as men over all other animals.
Since their last defeat, the Tanaquites kept very quiet for a long time;
but when they found out the nature and condition of our cavalry; when
they discovered that those centaurs, who had frightened them so terribly
at first, were nothing in reality, but tamed horses with men seated upon
them, they took courage and armed new troops against the Quamites, under
the command of their king. Their whole army consisted of twenty thousand
tigers, all veteran soldiers, heroes of many hard fought fields, except
two regiments of new recruits; these hastily collected warriors were,
however, more formidable in name and numbers than in service. Already
sure of victory, they fell at once upon Quama. I immediately ordered
against them twelve thousand infantry, among whom were six hundred
musketeers, and four thousand horsemen. As I had not the slightest doubt
of a fortunate termination to this expedition, I requested the emperor
to take command of it, and thus reap the honor of the victory. By this
appearance of modesty, I lost no respect, for the whole army still
considered me the true leader. I first directed my cavalry against the
enemy, but these were resisted with so much vigor, that the side of
victory was for a long time doubtful: at the critical moment, when
triumph was vacillating between the two powers, I detached my musketeers
from the main body and advanced upon the foe. The Tanaquites were much
astonished at the first shots, for they could not conceive whence came
the thunder and lightning; but when they saw the mournful effects of our
continued volleys, they became terrified; at the first discharge fell
about two hundred tigers, among which were two chaplains, who were shot
down while encouraging the soldiers to bravery. When I observed the
panic among the enemy, I commanded a second discharge, whose results
were more fatal than the former; their king himself was shot: then the
Tanaquites took to flight; our cavalry followed them, and cut down so
many of the flying multitude, that those in the rear could not proceed
from the huge piles of slain that covered the way. When the battle was
over, we counted the killed of the enemy and found them to be thirteen
thousand: our own loss was comparatively very slight. The victorious
army marched into the kingdom of Tanaqui and encamped before its
capital. The general terror had meanwhile increased so much, that the
magistrates submissively met the conquerors and delivered the keys of
the city. The capital surrendering, the whole country soon followed its
example. The disregard and contempt in which the Quamites had to this
time been held, were changed to admiration and fear: the empire, with
the addition of the newly conquered kingdom, was extended to twice its
The glory of these actions was with one voice ascribed to my superior
knowledge and untiring industry; and the esteem which had been long
cherished for me, now passed over to a reverent and divine worship. This
period of general peace and exultation, I thought a fitting time to
advance the civilization and refinement of the Quamites, and as a
practical commencement to this great work I ordered the royal Tanaquitic
library to be moved to Quama.
My curiosity to become acquainted with this library had been at first
excited by the imprisoned leader Tomopoloko, who told me that among its
manuscripts was one, whose author had been up to our globe, in which
history of his travels he had described several of its kingdoms,
particularly those of Europe. The Tanaquites had seized this manuscript
during one of their predatory excursions into a distant land; but as the
author had concealed his name, they knew not what countryman he was, nor
in what manner he had passed up through the earth. The quaint title of
this book was: "Tanian's Travels Above-ground; being a description of
the kingdoms and countries there, especially those of Europe." From the
antiquity of this work together with its great popularity, it had become
so ragged, that what I was most anxious to learn, namely, the narration
of the author's journey to our earth and his return, was most
unfortunately lost. Here is the contents of this singular manuscript,
such as I found it:
"_Fragments of Tanian's Diary, kept on a Voyage
above-ground, Translated by his Excellency, M. Tomopoloko,
General-in-chief, in the Service of his Tanaquitic
* * * * *
"This land (Germany) was called the Roman empire; but it has been an
empty title, since the Roman monarchy was demolished several centuries
since. The language of this land is not easy to understand, on account
of its perverted style; for, what in other languages is placed before,
in this comes after, so that the meaning cannot be had before a whole
page is read through. The form of government is very inconsistent; some
think they have a regent and yet have none; it should be an empire, yet
it is divided into several duchies, each of which has its own
government, and often engages in a formal war with its neighbor. The
whole land is called 'holy,' although there is not to be found in it the
least trace of piety. The regent, or more correctly the unregent, who
bears the name of emperor, is denominated 'the continual augmenter of
his country,' although he not seldom diminishes it; 'invincible,'
notwithstanding he is often slain: sometimes by the French, sometimes by
the Turks. One has no less reason to wonder at the people's rights and
liberties; but although they have many rights, they are forbidden to use
them. Innumerable commentaries have been written upon the German
constitution, but notwithstanding this, they have made no advance
* * * * *
"The capital of this country (France) is called Paris, and is very
large, and may in a certain degree be considered the capital of all
Europe; for it exercises a peculiar law-giving power over the whole
continent. It has, for example, the exclusive right to prescribe the
universal mode of dress and living; and no style of dress, however
inconvenient or ridiculous, may be controverted after the Parisians have
once established it. How or when they obtained this prescriptive right
is unknown to me. I observed, however, that this dominion did not extend
to other things; for the other nations often make war with the French,
and not seldom force them to sue for peace on very hard terms; but
subservience in dress and living nevertheless continues. In quickness of
judgment, inquisitiveness after news, and fruitfulness of discovery, the
French are much like the Martinians.
* * * * *
"From Bologna we went to Rome. This latter city is governed by a priest,
who is held to be the mightiest of the kings and rulers of Europe,
although his possessions may be travelled through in one day. Beyond all
other regents, who only have supremacy over their subjects' lives and
goods, he can govern souls. The Europeans generally believe that this
priest has in his possession the keys of heaven. I was very curious to
see these keys, but all my endeavors were in vain. His power, not only
over his own subjects, but the whole human race, consists principally in
that he can absolve those whom God condemns, and condemn those whom God
absolves; an immense authority, which the inhabitants of our
subterranean world seriously believe is not becoming to any mortal man.
But it is an easy matter to induce the Europeans to credit the most
unreasonable assertions, and submit to the most high-handed assumptions,
notwithstanding they consider themselves alone sensible and enlightened,
and, puffed up with their foolish conceits, look contemptuously upon all
other nations, whom they call barbarous.
"I will not, by any means, defend our subterranean manners and
institutions: my purpose simply is, to examine those of the Europeans,
and show how little claim these people have to find fault with other
"It is customary, in some parts of Europe, to powder the hair and
clothes with ground and sifted corn; the same which nature has produced
for the nourishment of man. This flour is called hair-powder. It is
combed out with great care at night, preparatory to a fresh sprinkling
in the morning. There is another custom with them, which did not appear
less ridiculous to me. They have certain coverings for the head, called
hats, made ostensibly, to protect the head from the weather, but which,
instead of being used for this very reasonable purpose, are generally
worn under the arm, even in the winter. This seemed as foolish to me as
would the instance of one's walking through the city with his cloak or
breeches in his hand; thus exposing his body, which these should cover,
to the severity of the weather.
"The doctrines of European religion are excellent and consistent with
sound reason. In their books of moral law they are commanded to read the
Christian precepts often; to search into their true meaning, and are
advised to be indulgent with the weak and erring. Nevertheless, should
any understand one or another doctrine of these books in any but the
established sense, they would be imprisoned, lashed, yes, and even
burned for their want of judgment. This seemed to me the same case, as
if one should be punished for a blemish in sight, through which he saw
that object square which others believed to be round. I was told that
some thousand people had been executed by hanging or burning, for their
originality of thought.
"In most cities and villages are to be found certain persons standing in
high places, who animadvert severely upon the sins of others, which
they themselves commit daily: this seemed to me as sensible as the
preaching of temperance by a drunkard.
"In the larger towns, it is almost generally the fashion to invite one's
guests, immediately after meals, to imbibe a kind of sup made from burnt
beans, which they call coffee. To the places where this is drunk, they
are drawn in a great box on four wheels, by two very strong animals; for
the higher classes of Europeans hold it to be very indecent to move
about on their feet.
"On the first day of the year, the Europeans are attacked by a certain
disease, which we subterraneans know nothing of. The symptoms of this
malady are a peculiar disturbance of the mind and agitation of the head;
its effects are that none can remain, on that day, five minutes in one
place. They run furiously from one house to another, with no appreciable
reason. This disease continues with many even fourteen days; until at
last, they become weary of their eternal gadding, check themselves and
regain their former health.
"In France, Italy and Spain, the people lose their reason for some
weeks, in the winter season. This delirium is moderated by strewing
ashes on the foreheads of the sufferers. In the northern parts of
Europe, to which this disease sometimes extends, and where the ashes
have no power, nature is left to work the cure.
"It is the custom with most Europeans, to enter into a solemn compact
with God, in the presence of witnesses, three or four times a year,
which they invariably and immediately break. This compact is called
'communion,' and seems to have been established only to show that the
Europeans are used to break their promises several times each year. They
confess their sins and implore the mercy of God, in certain melodies,
accompanied by instrumental music. As the magnitude of their sins
increases, their music becomes louder: thus fluters, trumpeters and
drummers are favorite helpers to devotion.
"Almost all the nations of Europe are obliged to acknowledge and believe
in the doctrines, which are contained in a certain 'holy book.' At the
south the reading of this book is entirely forbidden; so that the people
are forced to credit what they dare not read; in these same regions, it
is likewise austerely forbidden to worship God, except in a language
incomprehensible to the people; so that, only those prayers are held to
be lawful and pleasing to God, which are uttered from memory, without
"The learned controversies which occupy the European academies, consist
in the discussion of matters, the development of which is productive of
no benefit, and in the examination of phenomena, the nature of which is
beyond the reach of the human mind. The most serious study of a European
scholar, is the consideration of a pair of old boots, the slippers,
necklaces and gowns of a race long extinct. Of the sciences, both
worldly and divine, none judge for themselves, but subscribe blindly to
the opinions of a few. The decisions of these, when once established,
they cling to, like oysters to the rocks. They select a few from their
number whom they call, 'wise,' and credit them implicitly. Now, there
would be nothing to object against this, could raw and ignorant people
decide in this case; but to decide concerning wisdom requires,
methinks, a certain degree of sapience in the judge.
"In the southern countries, certain cakes are carried about, which the
priests set up for Gods; the most curious part of this matter is, the
bakers themselves, while the dough yet cleaves to their fingers, will
swear that these cakes have created heaven and earth.
"The English prefer their liberty to all else, and are not slaves,
except to their wives. Today they reject that religion, which yesterday
they professed. I ascribe this fickleness to the situation of their
country; they are islanders and seamen, and probably become affected by
the variable element that surrounds them. They inquire very often after
each other's health, so that one would suppose them to be all doctors;
but the question: how do you do? is merely a form of speech; a sound
without the slightest signification.
"Towards the north, is a republic, consisting of seven provinces. These
are called 'united,' notwithstanding there is not to be found the least
trace of union among them. The mob boast of their power, and insist upon
their _right_ to dispose of state affairs; but no where is the
commonalty more excluded from such matters; the whole government being
in the hands of some few families.
"The inhabitants of this _republic_ heap up great riches with anxious
and unwearied vigilance, which, however, they do not enjoy: their purses
are always full, their stomachs always empty. One would almost believe
they lived on smoke, which they continually suck through tubes or pipes,
made of clay. It must, nevertheless, be confessed, that these people
surpass all others in cleanliness; for they wash everything but their
"Every land has its own laws and customs, which are usually opposed to
each other. For example; by law, the wife is subject to the husband; by
custom, the husband is ruled by the wife.
"In Europe, the superfluous members of society only are respected; these
devour not only the fruits of the land but the land itself. The
cultivators of the soil, who feed these gorges are degraded for their
industry and despised for their usefulness.
"The prevalence of vice and crime in Europe may perhaps be fairly
inferred from the great number of gallows and scaffolds to be seen
everywhere. Each town has its own executioner. I must, for justice sake,
clear England from this stigma; I believe there are no public murderers
in that country: the inhabitants hang themselves.
"I have a kind of suspicion that the Europeans are cannibals; for they
shut large flocks of healthful and strong persons in certain inclosures,
called cloisters, for the purpose of making them fat and smooth. This
object seldom fails, as these prisoners, free from all labor and care,
have nothing to do but to enjoy themselves in these gardens of pleasure.
"Europeans commonly drink water in the morning to cool their stomachs;
this object accomplished, they drink brandy to heat them again.
"In Europe are two principal sects in religion; the Roman catholic and
the protestant. The protestants worship but one God; the catholics,
several. Each city and village, with these, has its appropriate God or
Goddess. All these deities are created by the pope, or superior priest
at Rome, who, on his part, is chosen by certain other priests, called
cardinals. The mighty power of these creators of the creator of the
gods, does not, as it would seem to an indifferent spectator, apparently
alarm the people.
"The ancient inhabitants of Italy subdued the whole world, and obeyed
their wives; the present, on the contrary, abuse their wives and submit
to the whole world.
"The Europeans generally feed upon the same victuals with the
subterraneans. The Spaniards alone live on the air.
"Commerce flourishes here and there; many things are offered for sale in
Europe, which with us are never objects of trade. Thus in Rome, people
sell heaven; in Switzerland, themselves; and in * * * * * * *, the
crown, sceptre and throne are offered at public auction.
"In Spain, idleness is the true mark of a well-bred man; and the
distinguishing proof of pure nobility is an aptitude to sleep.
"Among European writers, those are in the highest repute, who change the
natural order of words, making that which is in itself simple and
distinct, intricate and incomprehensible. The class most noted for this
abominable perversion of style is that of the 'poets:' this singular
removal of words is called 'poetry.' The capability to puzzle is by no
means the only requisite to become a true poet; one must be able to lie
most terribly. A certain old poet named Homerus, who possessed both
these qualities in an eminent degree, is styled the 'master,' and is
idolized with a kind of divine worship. He has had many imitators of his
distortion of sentences and falsification of truth; but, it is said,
none have yet reached his excellence.
"The cultivators of science purchase books in great quantities, not so
much, I am told, for the sake of the contents, as for their antiqueness
of style or elegance of binding.
"The learned and unlearned are distinguished from each other by
different dresses and manners; but especially by different religions:
the latter believe mostly in one God; the former worship many
divinities, both male and female. Among the principal of these are,
Apollo, Minerva, and nine muses; besides many lesser whole and half
Gods. The poets particularly implore their aid and 'hail' them when they
take a notion to rage.
"The learned are divided, according to their different studies into the
classes of philosophers, poets, grammarians, natural philosophers,
"A philosopher is a scientific tradesman, who, for a certain price,
sells prescriptions of self-denial, temperance and poverty; he generally
preaches the pains of wealth, till he becomes rich himself, when he
abandons the world for a comfortable and dignified retreat. The father
of the philosophers, Seneca, is said to have collected royal wealth.
"A poet is one who makes a great stir with printed prattle, falsehood
and fury. Madness is the characteristic of the true poet. All those who
express themselves, with clearness, precision and simplicity are deemed
unworthy of the laurel wreath.
"The grammarians are a sort of military body, who disturb the public
peace. They are distinguished from all other warriors, by dress and
weapons. They wear black instead of colored uniforms, and wield pens
rather than swords. They fight with as much obstinacy for letters and
words as do the others for liberty and father-land.
"A natural philosopher is one who searches into the bowels of the earth,
studies the nature of animals, worms and insects, and, in a word, is
familiar with every thing, but himself.
"A metaphysician is a sort of philosopher, partly visionary and partly
sceptical, who sees what is concealed from all others. He describes the
being and unfolds the nature of souls and spirits, and knows both what
is, and what is not. From the acuteness of his sight, the metaphysician
cannot discern what lies directly before his feet.
"I have thus briefly considered the condition of the learned republic in
Europe. I could relate many other things, but I think I have given the
reader a sufficient test, by which he may judge how far the Europeans
have a right to hold themselves preėminent for wisdom.
"The people above-ground are exceedingly pious, and extraordinarily
zealous in praying. Their prayers, however, do not arise from the
impulses and emotions of their hearts; but are subdued to mere matters
of form, directed by bells, clocks or sun-dials. Their devotion is
entirely mechanical, founded on external signs and old customs rather
than in sincere feeling.
"When I came to Italy, I fancied myself master over the whole country;
for every one called himself my slave. I took a notion to test the
extent of this humble obedience, and commanded my landlord to lend me
his wife for a night; he became very angry, however, at this, and
ordered me out of his house.
"In the north, there are many people who seek with great pains to obtain
titles of offices which they do not hold; and many lose their reason in
their eagerness to be on the right side. Furthermore,"
* * * * *
Here I lost my patience. Inflamed to the utmost fury, I threw the book
on the ground, and assured Tomopoloko, who was by me, that it was the
fiction of an unjust and choleric writer. When my first passion was
cooled, I reviewed my sentence, and finally concluded that the author
of these travels, although unfair and untrue in many particulars, had
nevertheless made some good points and happy reflections.
I will now return to civil affairs. All our neighbors had kept very
quiet for a long period, and during this peace I made every effort to
constitute the government according to my own notions, and strengthen
the army in numbers and efficiency.
Suddenly, we received information that three warlike and formidable
nations, namely, the Arctonians, Kispusiananians and Alectorians, had
united against the Quamites. The first named were bears gifted with
reason and speech. The Kispusiananians were a nation of large cats
celebrated for their cunning and ferocity. The Alectorians were cocks,
armed with bows and arrows. These arrows with poisoned tips, were cast
with wonderful precision, and their least touch was fatal.
These three nations had been irritated by the uncommon progress of the
Quamites as well as by the fall of the Tanaquites. The allied powers
sent ambassadors to Quama, to demand the liberty of the imprisoned
Tanaquitians and the cession of their land, with power to declare war
should the same be denied. By my advice, they were immediately dismissed
with the following answer: "Since the Tanaquitians, violators of peace
and alliance, have deserved the misery which they have brought upon
themselves by their own folly and pride, his majesty, the emperor, is
determined to defend, to the utmost, the possessions of a land,
conquered in a lawful war, in spite of the threats and fearless of the
strength of your unnatural alliance."
In a short time I had an army of forty thousand men ready for the coming
war: among these were eight thousand horsemen and two thousand riflemen.
The emperor, old as he was, determined to follow this campaign; his
eagerness and ambition were so great, that neither his wife's
representations nor mine were effective enough to induce him to abandon
In this state of affairs, I was made somewhat uneasy from mistrust of
the Tanaquitians. I feared that, impatient of their unaccustomed
slavery, they would take the first opportunity to throw off their yoke,
and go over to the enemy. I did not deceive myself; for immediately
after the declaration of war, we heard that full twelve thousand
Tanaquitians in complete armor, had marched for the enemy's encampment.
Thus were we occupied at once with four mighty foes.
In the beginning of the month Kilian, we commenced our march. From a
spy, we learnt that the united troops had already besieged the fort
Sibol in Tanaqui, on the borders of Kispusianania. On our arrival before
the place, they abandoned the siege and prepared to meet us. The battle
took place in a dale near the fort, and is to this day called the
The Arctonians, who formed their left wing, made great havoc among our
cavalry; and, supported by the rebellious Tanaquites, fell furiously on
our right; a moment longer and the fate of the conflict would have been
determined. I detached a body of riflemen to engage the attention of the
enemy, and allow the cavalry to recover; this movement was very
effective; the men handled their guns well, and the enemy hastily
abandoned their ground, under a terrific shower of balls. Meanwhile,
the Kispusiananians on the other side pressed our infantry very hard;
six hundred Quamites were down: some killed, others mortally wounded.
The recovered cavalry now rushed upon them impetuously, broke their
ranks, and, unresisted, slaughtered them by thousands.
The Alectorians, who formed the reserve, gave us the greatest trouble,
for when our soldiers would attack them, they flew into the air, whence
they shot on our heads their poisoned arrows. One of these entered the
neck of the old emperor, while fighting vigorously in the midst of the
field. He fell directly from his horse, was carried to his tent, and
shortly after expired. The soldiers having been kept in ignorance of
their sovereign's death, the battle was continued until midnight. I soon
found that our balls had but little effect upon our flying enemies;
their motions being so rapid that our gunners could take no aim. Some
new method must be devised to check them; a lucky expedient occurred to
me; I ordered the guns to be loaded with small shot: these scattering,
brought them down in great flocks, and soon half of them were destroyed;
the rest laid down their weapons and surrendered. The Arctonians and
Kispusiananians quickly followed their example, and their fortifications
were surrendered to our hands.
When all these things were fortunately brought to an end,
Behold then I called together the first among the people, the eldest,
The heads of all the troops, to Council, in full assembly;
Like the bubbling ocean's high-roaring billows
They all did stream to me; and silently heard my speech:
"Noble, brave and celebrated warriors. I doubt not, that it is well
known to the most of you, that I ofttimes advised his majesty not to
hazard his precious life in this desperate strife. But his natural
courage and fearless heroism would not suffer him to remain at home,
while his brave people exposed themselves abroad. O, that he could have
witnessed our glorious victory! Then our entrance into the imperial
residence would have been a true triumph, and our joy over so many noble
deeds would have been perfect; not as now, mingled with tormenting
sorrow! I can no longer conceal from you the mournful event, which has
given each one of us, a greater wound than could all the arrows of the
enemy. Know then, that our emperor, in the thickest of the battle, was
struck by an unfortunate arrow, and soon after expired. Horrible event!
What sorrow, what general mourning will the loss of this great king
cause over the whole country! Yet, do not lose courage! The great hero
has ceased to live in himself; but he is not dead to you! Your emperor
lives again in two princes, true images of their great father, and heirs
no less to his virtues than to his dignities. You have not changed your
emperor, but only your emperor's name. Since the prince Timuso, as the
first born, receives the crown, I am, from this moment, under his
sceptre, the leader of the army.
"Hail, Timuso! To him let us swear allegiance! To him, let us swear
eternal loyalty! Him, let us all hereafter obey!"
THE AUTHOR BECOMES A MONARCH UNDER THE GROUND.
When my speech was ended, they all cried out with loud voices: "We will
have Pikil-Su, for emperor." When I heard this, I became terrified, and
begged them, with tears in my eyes, not to forget the fidelity and duty
they owed to the imperial family. But my words were of no use. They all
approached me, and placed the crown upon my head, repeating the
above-mentioned exclamation. I was then carried from the tent and
proclaimed before the whole army, emperor of Quama, king of Tanaqui,
Arctonia and Alectoria, and duke of Kispusianania. Afterwards we made a
triumphal entry into the capital, where prince Timuso, himself
acknowledged me for emperor. Thus, from a miserable, shipwrecked wretch,
I became a great and powerful monarch. I soon married the daughter of
the deceased emperor, for the people still loved and honored the old
royal family. This princess was named Ralac, and
Bloomed, like the new-blown rose
In mellowed, purple-smile.
when I had reduced to order the affairs of the empire, and firmly
established myself on the throne, I thought of new means, by which I
might extend my dominions, and render my power fearful to the whole
subterranean world. I turned my attention to a navy, and soon had a
fleet of twenty ships on the sea.
I soon came to regard myself an under-ground Alexander; and determined
to make myself as famous as he had on our globe. I concluded to sail
first for Mezendore and thence to Martinia. We set sail at that period
of the year, when the planet Nazar is of the middle size, and in a few
days came in sight of the Mezendoric coast.
I immediately sent ambassadors to the imperial residence, of whom was
demanded in the name of the emperor,
"What their purpose; whence they came
Over the foaming billows of the swelling main."
The ambassadors answered:
"Neither misleading stars, deluding winds nor storm
Here brought us; with voluntary will we steered."
and thereupon delivered to the emperor a letter of the following
"We, Niels Klim, ambassador of the sun, emperor in Quama,
king of Tanaqui, Arctonia, and Alectoria, and duke of
Kispusianania, salute the emperor of Mezendore, Miklopolata.
We humbly make known, that it is concluded in the
unchangeable councils of heaven, that all the empires and
kingdoms of the world must surrender themselves to the power
of Quama; and as the will of providence is irrevocable, your
kingdom must necessarily submit to fate. We therefore
advise you to surrender voluntarily yourself and your
dominions, rather than foolishly resist our invincible
phalanx, and thereby experience all the bloody horrors of
"Given from our fleet, the third day in the month Rimat."
In a few days our ambassadors returned with a bold and haughty answer. I
made a descent upon the coast, placed my army in battle array, and sent
spies to examine the condition of the enemy. The spies came back in
great haste, and related that an immense army, of sixty thousand in
number, consisting of lions, tigers, elephants, bears and birds of prey,
was drawing towards us. We were soon apprised of their near approach, by
roars, shrieks and terrific cries, commingling a devilish tumult. The
combat soon commenced, and truly, 'twas one of the hottest and most
contumaceous, in which I ever engaged: at last we put them to flight.
In this engagement fell thirty-three thousand Mezendarians, and about
four thousand were made prisoners. We followed our victory, and drew
before the capital city; this we besieged both by land and sea. So
energetic was our blockade, that the enemy quickly proposed a parley,
and sent ambassadors to ask for peace on reasonable conditions. The
emperor offered to me his daughter, the handsomest of the lionesses, in
marriage, and the half of his empire as a dowry. These conditions,
although very honorable, were very displeasing to me, for I considered
it both unsafe and illicit to forsake my wife, whom I left behind in
pregnancy, and marry a lioness. I therefore sent back the ambassadors
I now ordered my cannon to be directed against the wall, which, although
built of stone, was soon rent. The emperor lost all hope and surrendered
himself together with all his lands. After putting a garrison in the
capital, I took the emperor on board my own ship, and laid my course for
Martinia, the coast of which we reached after a long but fortunate
We obtained here the same success as elsewhere. When the Martinians
submitted, I determined to include their neighbors under the same yoke.
As I was preparing to effect this, ambassadors from four adjacent
countries arrived, and voluntarily acknowledged allegiance to me. I now
possessed so many kingdoms, that I did not deem it worth my trouble to
ascertain the names of these; but included them all under the title of
the Martinianic "dominion."
A SUDDEN CHANGE IN THE FORTUNES OF THE AUTHOR.
Having made so many and extraordinary warlike excursions, and added to
our fleet a number of Martinianic ships, we set sail for our own land,
into which we entered with a splendor exceeding the old Roman triumphs.
And really my deeds deserved all possible honors; for what heroic action
could be greater and more glorious than to change a despised nation, a
nation exposed to the insults of its weaker neighbors, to the
acknowledged and respected ruler of the whole subterranean world? What
could be more honorable to a man, than to reinstate the human race in
that dominion, which nature has given to it, over all other animals?
From this time a new period may be reckoned in history; a fifth monarchy
can be added to the glorious roll of splendid empires. To the Assyrian,
Persian, Greek and Roman empires, the Subterranean-Quamatic monarchy,
which unquestionably exceeds them all in magnificence and power, may not
be considered unworthy to be joined. I could not decline, for obvious
reasons, the title of Koble, or great, with which the conquered nations
I was hailed thereafter, by the following titles: "Niels the Great,
Ambassador of the Sun, Emperor in Quama and Mezendore, King of Tanaqui,
Alectoria, Arctonia, the Mezendoric and Martinianic dominions, Grand
Duke of Kispusianania, Ruler of Martinia, etc. etc."
----firmly founded, stood
The mighty empire; the favorite of fortune,
I seemed as firmly fixed; not one, alas!
May be deemed happy 'till his latest hour.
When I had reached this splendid and powerful height, greater than any
man should desire, I became, what men usually become, who are raised
from a simple state to great honor in the world. I forgot my former
condition, and inclined to vanity. Instead of exerting myself to retain
the favor of the people, I proved myself cruel and rigorous to all
classes. My subjects, whom I had formerly endeared by friendly and
polite conduct, I now regarded and treated as slaves. For this course, I
came soon to be despised; the love and reverence of my people were
changed to indifference and fear. Their sentiments towards me I soon had
reason to understand, when I issued a proclamation to the inhabitants.
The occasion was this: the empress, whom I left in pregnancy during my
last expedition, had in my absence been delivered of a son. This prince
I wished to have nominated as my successor. I therefore summoned a Diet,
and commanded the Quamitian nobles and the great men among the conquered
nations, to meet in the capital, at the crowning of the child. None
dared to disobey this proclamation, and the coronation passed off with
great magnificence; but I observed by the countenances of my subjects,
that their joy was dissembled. I became more confirmed in my mistrust,
when I learnt that a multitude of libels had been spread about. These
libels, by unknown authors, criticised me very severely, and asserted
that prince Timuso was insulted in the choice of my son. This enraged me
so much that I could not rest until that noble and excellent prince
should be removed from my path. I therefore suborned some persons to
accuse him of treason; and since rulers seldom want assistants, when
they would commit crimes, I was quickly enabled to prove that Timuso had
attempted my life. I had him sentenced to death by bribed judges, and
then threw him into prison, where he was privately murdered; for I
feared to excite a rebellion by a public execution. I had determined to
murder the younger prince likewise; but postponed it. His youth procured
for him the safety, which neither my justice nor humanity would have
granted him. Having once imbued my hands in innocent blood, my cruelty
and moroseness knew no bounds. I doomed to death several whole families,
whose loyalty I merely suspected. Not a day passed without bloodshed. I
defiled my soul with the blood of innocence, virtue and nobleness. All
these things hastened a rebellion, excited by the nobles, who had been
long disgusted with me.
I will here acknowledge, that I deserved all the misfortunes that
afterwards met me. It had certainly been more fit for a Christian king
to have taught his ignorant and heathen subjects to know the true God,
and to have given them an example in my own person of the sweet
charities of the true religion, than to have excelled, even themselves
in barbarity, sin and moral turpitude. It would have been an easy matter
for me to have reformed the whole subterranean world, for whatever I
commanded was fulfilled; whatever I determined was received in perfect
good faith; whenever I spoke, my words were as those of a God. But I
forgot God and myself; I thought of nothing but empty and vain splendor,
and the augmentation of my power; wherefore I perpetrated many
cruelties, until the people, unable to bear more, (and they were a
patient people,) broke out against me.
While matters stood thus, I determined to lay hands on prince Hidoba.
This intention I revealed to my high-chancellor, Kalak, in whom I had
great confidence. He promised to be of service to me in all things, and
departed to fulfil my order: but at heart, he detested my cowardly
fears, and left me only to discover my plot to the prince. Together they
repaired to the fort, collected the garrison, and represented, in a
touching manner, their danger and my fears. The tears of the unfortunate
prince gave weight to his words; all seized their arms, and promised
that they would hazard their lives for him. The cunning chancellor took
the opportunity to persuade them to swear loyalty to the prince, and
sent messages to others, who, he knew, were displeased with me, to take
arms against the tyrant.
All armed themselves, whose hearts, through fear and horror,
Did burn towards their country's tyrant; they met
and united with the garrison, while I awaited the return of the
* * * * *
By the advice of Pomopoloko, I fled seasonably to Tanaqui, leaving my
own capital before the inhabitants generally were apprised of the
immediate cause of the sudden out-break. Arrived in Tanaqui, I quickly
collected an army of forty thousand men, and boldly retraced the steps
which a few days before I had pursued in fear and trembling. I had
little doubt that my powers would be augmented by Quamites, who had been
either too remote to suffer from my cruelty, or too indifferent to my
infamy, to hesitate in joining a force so overpowering, and a leader
whose prospects were so brilliant as mine. But I was deceived in my
hopes: instead of auxiliaries a herald from the prince met me. The
object of his mission was to declare a formal war, and, for a
commencement of hostilities, that my wife and son had been imprisoned.
On the footsteps of the herald came the Quamitic forces. A bloody
engagement took place, in which our part proved to be inferior. I, left
to my fate, fled to a neighboring mountain, crossed its side and
descended to a dale behind it. There I remained in concealment for some
time, bemoaning, the while, my misery, as I then believed, but which I
afterwards more justly named, my folly. I was so agitated, had so
thoroughly lost that presence of mind for which I had in former days
been distinguished, that I did not remove from my head the crown, which,
being ornamented with sunbeams, would have easily betrayed me. While
panting like a bayed lion, I heard a nestling on the other side of the
mountain, which I supposed was made by men beating the bushes to
discover any hiders. I now looked around for a more secure retreat, for
I doubted not that my flight had been noticed, and that these pursuers
would search on my side of the mountain. Behind me was
----A thick and matted forest, sunk between hills
All desolate and bare, whose dark and awful silence
I hurried thither, fiercely flinging aside the thorny bushes that clung
as fiercely to me, and came at last to the mouth of a cave. Creeping in,
I observed that the cave was deep, and as far as the light penetrated,
level. I determined to explore its recesses, though I think I should not
have been so hardy in my days of fortune.
After treading cautiously a hundred paces, I suddenly lost my footing,
and plunged with the quickness of lightning, into a hole that must have
had perpendicular sides.
Having shot through this passage, the abode of palpable darkness and
night, I suddenly perceived a faint light.
As when through clouds the moon doth gleam
With pallid smile.
As this light increased, my speed decreased, so that without pain or
trouble, I was soon brought to a stand between two high mountains. My
sensations, during this remarkable passage, were similar to those
experienced while tossing among the billows of the ocean. On recovering,
I found myself, to my great astonishment, in the same spot from which,
years before, I had plunged into the subterranean regions. A moment's
reflection gave me the means to account for the decrease of speed in the
latter part of my course. The weight of the atmosphere is much greater
on the surface of the globe, than below; consequently I was buoyed up by
the increasing resistance of the air towards the surface. Had this not
been the case, I should, unquestionably, at least in my own mind, have
shot off to the moon.
Still, being obnoxious to cavil, I will defer this hypothesis to the
astronomer's closer examination.
THE AUTHOR'S RETURN TO HIS FATHER-LAND, AND THE END OF THE FIFTH
Although perfectly sensible, my limbs were entirely benumbed; and I lay
helpless for a long time. Meanwhile I ruminated on my singular course.
The events of the past years rose one after another with clearness in my
mind; particularly those of my exaltation and fame. Here was I, the late
founder of the splendid fifth monarchy, metamorphosed to a poor and
hungry bachelor-of-arts; a change so terrible and unprecedented, that it
might well have disturbed the strongest brain. I seriously examined my
present circumstances--were they real? or did I dream? Alas? the tremors
of terror and uncertainty only gave place to the pangs of sorrow and
"Almighty Father!" I exclaimed, and towards heaven
Stretched my trembling hands, "what sin provoked thy vengeance,
That all thy thunders crash upon my head?
Where am I? whence came I? how shall I escape
Truly! should one look over the journals of all times, he will neither
in ancient nor modern history find a parallel to so great a fall; with
the single exception of that of Nebuchadnezzar, who from the greatest of
kings was changed to a dumb beast.
I began to descend the mountain by the path which leads to Sandvig. When
about half way down, I observed some boys, whom I beckoned towards me,
repeating the words: _Jeru pikal salim_, which in the Quamitic language
signify: show me the way. The lads, however, were apparently frightened
at seeing a man in a strange dress, and with a hat on his head
glittering with golden rays; for they rushed down the mountain in great
haste, arriving at Sandvig an hour before me. The rumor of the strange
appearance on the mountain was spread about and caused terror throughout
the town; the notion was, that the _shoemaker of Jerusalem_ wandered
among the mountains. This impression arose thus: the boys on being
questioned by the townsmen, replied that I had told them who I was. I
afterwards learnt that my words, Jeru pikal salim, had been interpreted
by sound, and that this clew, acted upon by fear and superstition, had
been developed into the strangest of fables. This story was unquestioned
by this simple people, inasmuch as the adventures of the travelling
shoemaker were then newly reported, and it had been asserted that he had
been seen a short time before in Hamburg.
When, towards evening, I entered Sandvig, I observed that the
inhabitants were collected in large flocks, to gaze at me. As I
approached them and spoke, they all took to flight, except one old man:
him I addressed, and begged of him to give me lodging at his house. He
asked me, "where I was born, whence I came, &c." I answered him, with a
sigh: "When I come to your house, I will relate events that will seem
incredible to you, and whose equals you will not find in any history."
The old man then took me by the hand and led me to his house. When there
I demanded drink; he gave me a glass of beer. When I recovered my
breath, after this draught, I addressed the old man thus: "You see
before you a human being, who has been a bolt for the changing winds of
fortune; one, who has been pursued by a fatality more controlling and
more unhappy than was ever experienced by mortal."
"Moral and physical revolutions may be effected in a moment, without
surprising men; but what has befallen me is beyond the reach of human
"It is the traveller's fate;" my landlord answered; "many strange events
and changes might happen on a voyage of sixteen hundred years."
I did not understand this, and requested him to tell me what he meant by
sixteen hundred years. He replied: "If one may believe history, it is
now sixteen hundred years since Jerusalem was destroyed, and I doubt
not, venerable man, that you were already of age at its destruction. If
what is said of you is true, you must have been born in the reign of
Tiberius. I know that this matter is rather supposed than proved. The
inhabitants of this place, however, believe you to be the shoemaker of
Jerusalem, celebrated in history, who, since the time of Christ, has
travelled about the world. Nevertheless, the more I look at you, the
greater resemblance I find to an old friend of mine, who twelve years
since perished on the top of a neighboring mountain." At these words, I
looked carefully at my host. In a moment the fog was cleared from before
my eyes. I saw before me my dear friend Abelin, in whose house, at
Bergen, I had spent many happy days. I ran to his embrace with
outstretched arms. "Then 'tis you, my dear Abelin! I can scarcely
believe my eyes. Here you see Klim again, who has just returned from the
subterranean world. I am the same, who twelve years since plunged into
the mountain cave." He fell upon my neck and with tearful eyes, demanded
where I had been and what had happened to me. I told him all that had
occurred. At first he would not credit me; but afterwards he
acknowledged that all must have been so, for I could never have invented
such strange adventures.
Abelin advised me not to repeat these things to others, and to keep
myself secluded in his house. He told the people, who rushed to his
house to see the "shoemaker of Jerusalem," that I had vanished; for he
justly concluded this to be the best and most satisfactory answer he
could make to an ignorant and superstitious peasantry. I remained in
concealment until clothes, more suitable to the surface of the earth,
than those I brought from below, were made, when Abelin reported me to
be a relative of his, lately a student in Trondhjim, on a visit. He
recommended me to the bishop of Bergen, who promised to me the first
rectorship that should become vacant. This office was much to my taste,
for it seemed to have a likeness to my former state, a school-master
being a miniature of royalty. The rod may be likened to the sceptre; the
desk to the throne. After waiting for a vacancy in vain, I determined,
from necessity, to accept the first office I could get. At this time the
sacristan of the church died; his place was offered to me by the bishop
and accepted. An amusing promotion to one who had lately reigned over
many great kingdoms. Nevertheless, since nothing is so ridiculous as
poverty, and since it is foolish to throw away dirty water, before clean
is at hand, I think it would have been still more laughable to have
refused it. Fulfilling the duties of this office, I now live in
Shortly after my induction, a marriage with a merchant's daughter was
proposed to me. I could have liked the girl, but as it was probable that
the empress of Quama was yet alive, I did not care to make myself
obnoxious to the ban of polygamy. M. Abelin, however, into whose bosom I
was used to pour my doubts, and all the pressures of my heart, abridged
this fear, and advised me to marry; which I did. With this wife I have
lived six years in peaceful and affectionate union. During this period
she has borne me three fine sons, wholly worthy of their half brother,
the prince of Quama.
To my wife, I never told my subterranean adventures; but I can never
forget, for a moment, the splendor that once surrounded me. To this
day, I often express myself in signs and words, which, however
consistent in the mighty ruler and magnificent tyrant, are little
adapted to the humble sacristan of Bergen.
THE SUPPLEMENT OF ABELIN.
Niels Klim lived to the year 1695. His irreprehensible life and amiable
disposition endeared him to all. Yet were the priests now and then angry
with him for his great sedateness and reservedness, which they called
pride and haughtiness. I, who knew the man, wondered much at the
modesty, humility and patience with which he, who had been monarch over
many nations, executed his mean and vulgar duties. So long as his
strength permitted, he would, at a certain time in the year, ascend the
mountain and gaze into the cave, out of which he came to the surface.
His friends observed that he always returned weeping, and immediately
shut himself in his chamber, where he remained alone the rest of the
His wife informed me, that she frequently heard him murmur in his
dreams, of armies and navies. His library consisted mostly of political
works; for this selection he was blamed by several, who thought this
description of books unfit for a sacristan.
Of the "subterranean travels," there is but a single copy, written by
his own hand, which is in my possession.
I have often had it in mind to publish them, but several important
reasons have hindered me from doing so.
 A porteur is one who carries his employer in a chair, from place to
 This name is taken to be predicated.
| Transcriber's Notes |
| Page 30: form amended to from ("My European clothes were |
| taken from me....") |
| Page 43: pennyless amended to penniless |
| Page 50: sapplings amended to saplings |
| Page 55: pityless amended to pitiless |
| Page 56: chrystal amended to crystal; nutricious amended |
| to nutritious |
| Page 70: Closing quotes added to the paragraph ending "... |
| mitigate our torments." |
| Page 98: Martianic amended to Martinianic |
| Page 109: sea-yoyage amended to sea-voyage |
| Page 122: unwieldly amended to unwieldy |
| Page 127: indescriminately amended to indiscriminately |
| Page 135: Tanquites amended to Tanaquites |
| Page 144: "they have made no advance because": no |
| punctuation at end of paragraph _sic_ |
| Page 155: Opening quotes added to the paragraph starting |
| "The learned and unlearned...." |
| Page 157: prėeminent amended to preėminent |
| Page 161: Kispusiania amended to Kispunianania |
| Page 165: Tanqui amended to Tanaqui |
| Page 168: Full stop after "battle array" amended to a |
| comma. |
| Page 172: Kespusianania amended to Kispunianania |
| Page 183: hefore amended to before |
| Page 185: Closing quotes added after "... plunged into the |
| mountain cave." |
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